The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Victim Assistance Unit offers Victim Advocates to meet the needs of victims of crime or witnesses to a tragic event. Advocates seek to provide support and information, which many people need in the aftermath of a trauma. Our advocates also assist families experiencing a sudden, traumatic death such as the death of a loved one from suicide, overdose, or traffic accidents. Our advocates are available Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. We assist victims of crime throughout Sarasota County, regardless of which law enforcement agency may be handling your case. All services are free and do not require a law enforcement report. (Please note: We are mandated to report instances of child abuse, abuse of a vulnerable adult and elder abuse.)
An advocate can provide:
Victim Advocate Contact Information:
Victim Advocate Coordinator: (941) 861-4942
Victim Advocate – North County: (941) 861-4962
Victim Advocate – South County: (941) 861-4961
In the initial aftermath of a trauma, the most intense time is often within the first 8 weeks and may occur periodically as certain events bring reminders, such as court, anniversaries and life events. Those who experience a traumatic event endure a wide variety of reactions which can last hours, days, weeks or months. Working with a Victim Advocate to process these reactions, identify coping skills, and gather the information you may need, can be helpful in navigating your way through this time. Everyone's level of impact is unique and so are the ways in which people deal with the impact.
For those victims who wish to seek mental health counseling, Victim Advocates can provide referrals to community-based counseling agencies who offer free or sliding fee scales, can assist you in understanding how to screen a private practitioner to see if they are a "good fit" for your needs, and determine whether or not you may be eligible for Victim Compensation which may assist in paying for out-of-pocket mental health counseling expenses.
The Office of the Attorney General, Bureau of Victim Compensation provides the Crime Victim Compensation program. This program provides certain areas of reimbursement for certain types of crimes. Only those expenses directly related to a crime will be considered for payment and all benefits have dollar limitations, subject to change without prior notice, and may require certain types of documentation. Victim Advocates can assist you in understanding whether or not you qualify and review eligibility requirements as well as assist you in filing the application and tracking your claim status.
The Florida Criminal Justice System
For many victims of crime, this is their first interaction with the criminal justice system. There are many questions that may come up about the steps within this system and your role as the victim. Victim Advocates can assist you in understanding the steps of the criminal justice system, your role and your rights as a victim. Victim Advocates can also accompany you through court-related appointments and proceedings related to the victimization. We may also be able to assist you with transportation if it is needed (case load permitting). Victim's rights are part of the Florida Statutes under Chapter 960, entitled Victim Assistance
Professional Presentations and Community Education
The Victim Assistance Unit is part of the Speakers Bureau and is available to speak to your agency or organization! Presentations range from 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the topic desired and can be tailored to your needs. We can also set up a tabletop display with information on victims' rights, educational materials, and victim compensation at your event or fair.
Topics include (but are not limited to):
Homicide Bereavement Support Group
For more information or for location details, please contact:
Volunteer: Lynn Mison (941) 861-0819
Group Facilitator: Concetta Hollinger, (941) 861-4942