The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office established the Victim Advocate Program in 1996 as a first responder unit to provide immediate assistance for the many problems people face after becoming victims of crime. Studies have shown that victims and witnesses often experience trauma resulting from a crime. It can be increased by their involvement with the criminal justice process. They often feel isolated and confused and do not know where to turn for practical advice or support. Further, crime victims often need immediate help with items such as food, clothing or temporary housing. Bad things happen every day, but the Victim Advocate tries to make it a little easier to deal with. The Victim Advocate provides assistance on a 24 hour-a-day basis to victims and their families who may need on-scene or follow-up crisis counseling, criminal justice support or post-conviction support.
The Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate is often one of the first to respond to a crime scene to assist victims and survivors. During this critical time victims may experience a wide range of feelings and emotions and the Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate program can assist in many ways:
- Assist with restraining orders and create safety plans,
- Make funeral arrangements, and locate emergency legal or financial assistance.
- Provide Emotional and moral support.
- Identify and inform victims of their rights under the law.
- Conduct on the scene crisis intervention.
- Act as a liaison between victim, police officers, investigators, and community -based agencies.
- Arrange for professional counseling.
- Assist victims in filing applications for the victim’s compensation fund through the Attorney General’s Office of Victim Assistance to help with medical expenses, lost wages, counseling expenses, and funeral expenses.
- Help prepare victims for court and provide court advocacy and accompaniment.
- Provide information regarding current status of case.
- And equally important, the Victim Advocate provides a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold.
Our Victim Advocates are funded through a Victim of Crimes Act grant from the Department of Justice, passed through the Florida Attorney General’s Office. This funding comes from fines and forfeitures from criminal activity. Our Advocates provide emotional support for victims of crime in Wakulla County while assisting them in receiving any services they need related to their victimization.
For more information about the Victim Advocate Program, please call 850-745-7129