What Is the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA)?Leave a Comment
Facing any type of criminal conviction can be a scary experience—but sex offenses are in a category of their own. A conviction for a sex crime can have a major impact on your life, affecting your ability to work, find a place to live, and maintain relationships with your loved ones. In these situations, you want to do everything you can to protect your interests and avoid a jury trial.
In some cases, you may qualify for Washington’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOA) program. This prison alternative allows those accused of sex offenses to receive treatment and counseling rather than going to jail. However, you will need to plead guilty to the crime to obtain an SSOSA sentence.
SSOSA Eligibility Requirements
The goal of the SSOSA program is to help address the root causes that may lead to a sex crime and provide more opportunities for rehabilitation than incarceration could provide. This program also attempts to reduce overall incarceration rates in the state of Washington.
According to the Revised Code of Washington 9.94A.670, a person may apply for an SSOSA sentence if he or she meets the following requirements:
- The person has been convicted of a sex offense other than second-degree rape or another serious violent offense.
- The person pleads guilty and voluntarily and affirmatively admits that he or she commits all elements of the crime.
- The person does not have any prior sex offense convictions in any state.
- The person does not have any prior adult convictions for a violent offense within the last five years.
- The offense in question did not result in substantial bodily harm to the alleged victim.
- The person has an established relationship with or connection to the victim outside of the crime.
Pros and Cons of Applying for an SSOSA
Jail sentences for sex offenses can be lengthy, and an SSOSA may seem like a positive alternative to this serious penalty. However, applying for an SSOSA can be invasive and challenging, and it might not be the right option for you.
In particular, you must undergo a thorough evaluation to determine whether you require specialized treatment. You must also attend years of treatment, which can disrupt your life. If your SSOSA is revoked, you will automatically go to prison to begin serving a suspended sentence.
Discuss Your Options with a Defense Attorney
If you are facing a conviction for a sex offense, it can be difficult to know what to do next. You may wonder if you should enter a guilty plea and pursue an SSOSA, or if you should plead not guilty and fight the charges. To determine which option is in your best interests, it is critical to consult with a Washington sex crime defense attorney.
A lawyer can evaluate your case and determine which pathway can lead to the best possible outcome for your situation. He or she will carefully explain your options, discuss the pros and cons of each alternative, and take steps to limit the penalties or even dismiss the charges against you. Your attorney can also represent your case in court, defending your side of the story and working to achieve an optimal resolution on your behalf.
As soon as possible following your arrest, contact a Tacoma criminal defense lawyer. Do not speak with the police or any investigators until you speak with your attorney. Your lawyer will assess your situation and help strategize your next steps.