(a) No care custodian, health practitioner or employee of an adult protective service agency or a local law enforcement agency who reports a known or suspected instance of elder or dependent adult abuse shall be civilly or criminally liable for any report required or authorized by this article. Any other person reporting a known or suspected instance of elder or dependent adult abuse shall not incur civil or criminal liability as a result of any report authorized by this article, unless it can be proven that a false report was made and the person knew that the report was false. No person required to make a report pursuant to this article, or any person taking photographs at his or her discretion, shall incur any civil or criminal liability for taking photographs of a suspected victim of elder or dependent adult abuse or causing photographs to be taken of such a suspected victim or for disseminating the photographs with the reports required by this article. However, this section shall not be construed to grant immunity from this liability with respect to any other use of the photographs.
(b) Any care custodian, health practitioner, or employee of an adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency who, pursuant to a request from an adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency, provides the requesting agency with access to the victim of a known or suspected instance of elder or dependent adult abuse shall not incur civil or criminal liability as a result of providing that access.
(c) The Legislature finds that, even though it has provided immunity from liability to persons required to report elder or dependent adult abuse, that immunity does not eliminate the possibility that actions may be brought against those persons based upon required reports of abuse. In order to further limit the financial hardship that those persons may incur as a result of fulfilling their legal responsibilities, it is necessary that they not be unfairly burdened by legal fees incurred in defending those actions. Therefore, a care custodian, health practitioner, or an employee of an adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency may present a claim to the State Board of Control for reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in any action against that person on the basis of making a report required or authorized by this article if the court has dismissed the action upon a demurrer or motion for summary judgment made by that person, or if he or she prevails in the action. The State Board of Control shall allow that claim if the requirements of this subdivision are met, and the claim shall be paid from an appropriation to be made for that purpose. Attorneys' fees awarded pursuant to this section shall not exceed an hourly rate greater than the rate charged by the Attorney General at the time the award is made and shall not exceed an aggregate amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). This subdivision shall not apply if a public entity has provided for the defense of the action pursuant to Section 995 of the Government Code.
(d) Any person who fails to report an instance of elder or dependent adult abuse, as required by this article, is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 241, Sec. 2.)