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Legal Information: Washington

Restraining Orders

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December 3, 2020

What are the legal definitions of abandonment, abuse, personal exploitation, improper use of restraints, neglect, and financial exploitation?

Abandonment is an action (or failure to act) by a person who has a duty to care for the vulnerable adult that leaves the vulnerable adult without the means or ability to get needed food, clothing, shelter, or care.1

Abuse is the intentional action (or failure to act) that causes injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment to a vulnerable adult. Abuse includes sexual abuse, mental abuse, and physical abuse.2

Personal exploitation is:

  • the act of forcing, compelling, or using undue influence over a vulnerable adult and causing him/her to act in a way that is different than related past behavior; or
  • causing the vulnerable adult to perform services for the benefit of another.3

Improper use of restraints means the inappropriate use of chemical, physical, or mechanical restraints for convenience or discipline in a way that:

  • is inconsistent with federal or state licensing or certification requirements for facilities, hospitals, or programs authorized by law;
  • is not medically allowed; or
  • otherwise constitutes abuse.4

Neglect is when a person or entity with a duty to care for a vulnerable adult:

  • engages in a pattern of conduct or fails to act in a way that provides the goods or services that are needed to keep the vulnerable adult mentally and physically healthy or fails to avoid or prevent physical or mental harm or pain to the vulnerable adult; or
  • acts or fails to act in a way that shows a serious disregard of the outcome to such a degree as to constitute a clear and present danger to the vulnerable adult’s health, welfare, or safety, including but not limited to conduct that is not allowed under the law.5

Financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use, control over, or withholding of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the vulnerable adult by any person or entity for the profit or advantage of any person or entity other than the vulnerable adult.6

1 R.C.W. § 74.34.020(1)
2 R.C.W. § 74.34.020(2)
3 R.C.W. § 74.34.020(2)(d)
4 R.C.W. § 74.34.020(2)(e)
5 R.C.W. § 74.34.020(16)
6 R.C.W. § 74.34.020(7)