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What Is Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA)?

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In Washington, sex crime convictions can carry very heavy penalties. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge, you may face years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and mandatory sex offender registration. If your case meets certain criteria, you may be eligible for the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA).

The goal of the SSOSA program is to address the cause of a sex offense and lower incarceration rates throughout Washington state. Instead of serving your entire sentence in prison, you attend a treatment program that aims to help reduce the risk of reoffending. However, not everyone qualifies for a SSOSA, and you will need to plead guilty to receive this alternative sentence.

What Is a SSOSA?

The purpose of the prison system is to punish offenders for certain crimes and deter them from committing the same acts in the future. For sexual offenders, however, this type of punishment is not always effective. Through a SSOSA program, the offender can receive treatment for sexual compulsion and address the root causes of the offense.

If you are accepted into a SSOSA, you may need to complete some prison time. After this period, you will attend outpatient or inpatient treatment with a state-certified program and follow certain community custody conditions. You will also need to register as a sex offender, independent of SSOSA. 

Who Is Eligible for SSOSA?

Not every person convicted of a sex crime is eligible for SSOSA in Washington state. To qualify for this type of alternative sentence, you must meet the following requirements.

  • You were convicted of a sex offense other than second-degree rape or another serious violent sex offense.
  • If you entered a guilty plea, you voluntarily and affirmatively admit that you committed all of the elements of the crime.
  • You do not have any prior sex crime convictions or any other felony sex offenses in Washington or another state.
  • You do not have any prior convictions as an adult for a violent offense within the last five years.
  • You have an established relationship with the victim, and the crime that you committed was not the sole connection between you and the victim.
  • You did not cause substantial bodily harm to the victim while committing the offense.
  • The crime that you are charged with carries a minimum prison sentence of no more than 11 years. 

Before pursuing a SSOSA, you must also undergo an evaluation to determine whether you suffer from sexual compulsion. It can between several weeks to several months for a state-certified sex offender treatment provider to conduct the test and determine whether a compulsion is present. As a result, it can be difficult for someone who does not have a bona fide sexual compulsion to be accepted into a SSOSA.

Contact a Washington Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer

A sex crime conviction can be very severe. In some situations, a SSOSA may be the best course of action in your case. However, if you did not commit the offense, pursuing this treatment program would ultimately harm your case. In these situations, it is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. 

A Washington sex crimes defense attorney can help you determine whether you qualify for this program and whether it is in your best interests. Your lawyer will then advocate aggressively for your best possible outcome. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest to discuss your legal options.

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