39-15-502. Financial exploitation of elderly or vulnerable adults
(a) It is an offense for any person to knowingly financially exploit an elderly or vulnerable adult.
(b) A violation of this section shall be punished as theft pursuant to § 39-14-105; provided, however, that the violation shall be punished one (1) classification higher than is otherwise provided in § 39-14-105.
©(1) If a person is charged with financial exploitation that involves the taking or loss of property valued at more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), a prosecuting attorney may file a petition with the circuit, general sessions, or chancery court of the county in which the defendant has been charged to freeze the funds, assets, or property of the defendant in an amount up to one hundred percent (100%) of the alleged value of funds, assets, or property in the defendant’s pending criminal proceeding for purposes of restitution to the victim. The hearing on the petition may be held ex parte if necessary to prevent additional exploitation of the victim.
(2) Upon a showing of probable cause in the ex parte hearing, the court shall issue an order to freeze or seize the funds, assets, or property of the defendant in the amount calculated pursuant to subdivision ©(1). A copy of the freeze or seize order shall be served upon the defendant whose funds, assets, or property has been frozen or seized.
(3) The court’s order shall prohibit the sale, gifting, transfer, or wasting of the funds, assets, or property of the elderly or vulnerable adult, both real and personal, owned by, or vested in, such person, without the express permission of the court.
(4) At any time within thirty (30) days after service of the order to freeze or seize funds, assets, or property, the defendant or any person claiming an interest in the funds, assets, or property may file a motion to release the funds, assets, or property. The court shall hold a hearing on the motion no later than ten (10) days from the date the motion is filed.
(d) In any proceeding to release funds, assets, or property, the state has the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, to show that the defendant used, was using, is about to use, or is intending to use any funds, assets, or property in any way that constitutes or would constitute an offense under subsection (a). If the court finds that any funds, assets, or property were being used, are about to be used, or are intended to be used in any way that constitutes or would constitute an offense under subsection (a), the court shall order the funds, assets, or property frozen or held until further order of the court.
(e) If the prosecution of a charge under subsection (a) is dismissed or a nolle prosequi is entered, or if a judgment of acquittal is entered, the court shall vacate the order to freeze or seize the funds, assets, or property.
(f) In addition to other remedies provided by law, an elderly or vulnerable adult in that person’s own right, or by conservator or next friend, has a right of recovery in a civil action for financial exploitation or for theft of the person’s money or property whether by fraud, deceit, coercion, or otherwise. The right of action against a wrongdoer shall not abate or be extinguished by the death of the elderly or vulnerable adult, but passes as provided in § 20-5-106, unless the alleged wrongdoer is a relative, in which case the cause of action passes to the victim’s personal representative.