split arrow with left arrow pointing to innocent and right arrow pointing to guilty

Should You Pursue a Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) If You’re Innocent?

Being accused of a sex offense is a nightmare—particularly if you’re innocent—and you may want to consider all of the possibilities that would allow you to avoid putting your fate in the hands of a jury. So you may consider SSOSA.

Washington’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) provides an opportunity for those accused of sex offenses to undergo treatment for sexual compulsion and, if successful in treatment, avoid time in prison. If you are eligible for a SSOSA based on the nature of the alleged offense and your prior history, and you’re risk averse or worried that a jury won’t recognize your innocence. SSOSA might seem like a good option if. However, there are a number of reasons why applying for a SSOSA is not an acceptable course of action for an innocent defendant.

A SSOSA requires that you plead guilty to a sex offense.

To be eligible for a SSOSA, you must enter a guilty plea and affirmatively admit that you committed all elements of the alleged offense; in other words, you cannot enter an Alford plea, in which you plead guilty while asserting your innocence. In addition to the fact that this is fundamentally dishonest, it means that you will be convicted of a very serious offense and required to register as a sex offender. A SSOSA is not the same as a Diversion Program. Completion of treatment will allow you to avoid prison (so long as you otherwise comply with the conditions of your community supervision), but the conviction will probably remain on your record forever.

A SSOSA requires you to undergo a very thorough and invasive evaluation.

Anyone who wants to pursue a SSOSA must undergo an evaluation to determine whether they suffer from sexual compulsion and need specialized treatment. The evaluation is conducted by a state-certified sex offender treatment provider and typically involves a polygraph examination and psychological testing, A penile plethysmograph is also sometimes administered; this is an extremely intrusive procedure that involves a band being placed around the penis to measure sexual stimulation during exposure to various situations such as consensual adult sex, forced sex, or an adult having sex with a child.

The process can be difficult even for those who are guilty. Given the thorough nature of the evaluation (it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for the process to be completed), it would also be difficult for someone who doesn’t have a genuine sexual compulsion to “successfully” complete the evaluation.

If a SSOSA is granted, it is incredibly risky and virtually impossible to fake your way through years of treatment.

Court-ordered treatment under a SSOSA can extend for as much as five years. Faking a sexual compulsion, offering convincing words and acts of remorse for a crime you did not commit, and simulating progress in sex offender treatment over several years would be extraordinarily difficult, not to mention the moral implications of this kind of deception.

There is much at stake if you don’t successfully complete treatment. If a SSOSA is granted, the judge will impose a suspended prison sentence. This means that if the SSOSA is revoked at any time, you will automatically go to prison to begin serving this sentence. The length of the prison term is often at the top of the standard sentencing range in order to encourage compliance with treatment and other conditions of the SSOSA, so you could end up serving many years in prison for a crime you did not commit.

Although SSOSA is not a good choice for someone who is innocent, for the right defendant, it presents a valuable opportunity to avoid prison and receive treatment that will restore a person to sexual health.

If you’ve been accused of a sexual offense, the Marshall Defense Firm is here to help. Our experienced, skilled team of defense attorneys would be happy to discuss the case with you. Please contact us at 206.826.1400 or solutions@marshalldefense.com to schedule a free consultation.

Confer with us in good health! You may choose to confer with us by Zoom or telephone to avoid Covid risk. Please phone us at 206.826.1400 to schedule your conference.