Not every client who comes to me is innocent. In many cases, a client has made a tragic mistake in a moment of weakness, and comes to me for the purpose of minimizing his exposure to the criminal justice system. As someone who believes that families and professionals will always be in a better position than the government to deal with these kinds of problems, I will always try to beat the case any way that I can in order to preserve my client's options to seek private assistance.
The reality is that most cases will not get dismissed; they will most often wind up either resolving through a plea bargain or going to trial. In most sex cases, one of the many conditions imposed during plea negotiations is the requirement that the defendant successfully pursue sex offender treatment.
The State legislature has become aware of the huge impact felt by the families and friends of sex offenders. As a result, they created a sentencing alternative specifically designed to avoid some of the severity of this impact while still achieving the accountability and protection of the public that is expected from the system. One of these options is the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative, or S.S.O.S.A (pronounced "Soza"). SSOSA is a creative alternative that attempts to achieve the above goals by crafting a sentence that is fundamentally based on a requirement that the defendant successfully maintain sex offender treatment while staying local. Under the terms of a SSOSA, the defendant may be sentenced to up to 12 months in the local county jail, often with work release as an option. Upon release back to the community, the defendant remains on active supervision and is required to register as a sex offender and to successfully enroll and participate in sex offender treatment.
SSOSA is not available in all sex cases. In particular, crimes involving predatory behavior or crimes without a victim are excluded from SSOSA's reach. The reasoning here is that SSOSA is designed for those cases where the defendant is someone known to the victim (often a family member), not for the predator who picks victims off the street at random. It's important to keep this requirement in mind because certain types of sex cases may seem like good candidates for SSOSA but will not qualify because there was no existing relationship with the victim. Child pornography cases are a good example: even though the same devastating impact on the family is likely to occur if the defendant is taken from his home and sent to a State prison for a decade, there is, technically, no "victim" and therefore no eligibility for SSOSA. Similarly, someone caught in a police "sting" operation involving online chats with police officers posing as children, may not be eligible for SSOSA because of the lack of an actual victim. This may be true even though a person who actually went through with the intended behavior with a real victim could be eligible for SSOSA!
It is important that your attorney be thoroughly familiar with the requirements and procedures necessary to obtain this extraordinary alternative, if it's of any interest to you. Prosecutors do not agree to SSOSA dispositions without checking off a long laundry list of requirements that must be met even before the defendant can be considered for SSOSA. Some of these requirements (e.g., a Psycho-Sexual Evaluation) require a great deal of expertise to produce effective results.