Washington’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) provides an opportunity for those who have committed sex offenses to receive treatment for sexual compulsion and avoid the time in prison that would otherwise result from a conviction of this nature. If you are eligible for a SSOSA based on the nature of the alleged offense and your prior history, pursuing a SSOSA may look like your best course. Keep in mind, though, pursuing a SSOSA means you have to give up your right to trial without any assurance you will get SSOSA.
Also, there are some big hoops you’ll have to jump through, including an evaluation that will probe your most private thoughts and feelings. It’s important that you fully understand the process and potential outcomes and consult with a knowledgeable attorney before making your decision.
What does the evaluation entail?
The purpose of the SSOSA evaluation is to determine whether an eligible offender suffers from sexual compulsion, needs and wants specialized treatment, and would pose a low or moderate risk to the community. A state-certified sex offender treatment provider conducts the evaluation which typically involves a polygraph examination and psychological testing. The evaluator will inquire about medical, sexual, and family history; education and employment; past substance abuse or treatment; and criminal record or history of violence. This process can be difficult for some. You will be asked to talk about intimate and potentially traumatic details of your life you may never have shared with anyone.
A penile plethysmograph is sometimes administered. It is intrusive and involves a band being placed around the penis to measure sexual stimulation in various situations. You will be exposed to pictures or audio of sexual activity that might include consensual adult sex, forced sex, or an adult having sex with a child. It can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for the evaluation process to be completed.
Even if you receive a favorable evaluation, the judge has the final say in whether a SSOSA is granted and is required by law to give significant weight to the opinion of the victim. The attorney for a SSOSA applicant will try to win the support of both the prosecutor and the victim’s family before sentencing; this is often a challenge and requires excellent advocacy for you.
What are the conditions of a SSOSA and what happens if you don’t comply with them?
If the court grants a SSOSA, the judge will impose a suspended prison sentence. So, if the SSOSA is ever revoked, 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. A SSOSA will not allow you to avoid incarceration altogether; judges usually order some period of time (up to 12 months) in county jail as a SSOSA condition.
You will be required to participate in intensive treatment, which can extend for as much as five years and often includes both group and individual counseling. You must pay for your own treatment and other supervision costs, as well as the costs of the victim’s treatment. The court can impose a number of other conditions, including maintaining employment, remaining within certain geographic boundaries, community service, and certain crime-related prohibitions.
Although the process is not easy and failure to comply with the conditions of a SSOSA carries serious consequences, if successful, an offender avoids prison and receives treatment that enables them to regain sexual health and live a much better life.
The Marshall Defense Firm is ready to help individuals decide whether to seek SSOSA, and if they do, to pursue it for them. We have plenty of experience getting SSOSA even against the opposition of prosecutors and victims. We fight as hard for SSOSA as we do to win a trial.
Regardless of whether trial or SSOSA makes the most sense for you, we’d be happy to discuss your case with you. Please contact us at 206.826.1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.