The purpose of the advocates is to provide assistance to citizens who have been victimized by a criminal act in the City of St. Petersburg. The Victim Assistant Specialists will comply with Florida State Statute 960.001 to wit, Guidelines for Fair Treatment of Victims and Witnesses in the Criminal and Juvenile System.
Some of the services provided include:
- Short Term/Crisis Intervention - Counseling for victims and "significant others" may be provided at crime scenes, hospitals, homes, or police department as necessary. If the need is not critical, contact will be made as soon as possible by telephone, letter or a personal visit.
- Transportation - Transportation for victims may be provided via police department vehicles when necessary.
- Assistance Through the Court Process - Many victims have had little experience with the criminal justice system. The victim assistant may explain the events encountered during the prosecution of a case; i.e. state attorney investigation, depositions, preliminary hearings, trials, and sentencing. In some cases, the victim assistant may accompany the victim and act as a liaison.
- Assistance With Replacement of Important Papers - Many victims are unaware of the type of documents which may need to be replaced. The victim assistant may write letters, make telephone calls, or, if necessary and the case permits, accompany the victim to the appropriate agency.
- Assistance with Medical Bills - Many victims have no knowledge of the Florida Crimes Compensation Trust Fund or have little experience dealing with insurance companies. The victim assistant may help complete applications for crimes compensation and insurance claim forms when there is an injury related to a specific crime.
- Assistance to "Victims of Society" - Assistance on a limited basis may be provided for a victim of society (transient, persons who have been evicted, mentally ill), and other persons who often come to the police department.
- Assistance to Victims/Witness of Crimes - Appropriate assistance will be provided for victims/witnesses who have been threatened, or who have expressed specific credible reasons for fearing intimidation or further victimization.