of Difficult Cases
What if You’re Guilty?
In many of our cases our clients have confessed to the crimes they are accused of before we ever meet them. Or they come to our office determined to take responsibility and get help. Most attorneys will tell you that the confession was the worst thing the person could do. And sometimes they are right.
But at the Meryhew Law Group we have enough experience that we often take a little different perspective. We know that sometimes the best thing a person can do is confess their mistakes, take responsibility, and seek treatment. Sex offenses are different from other crimes in many ways, but one of the biggest ways is the importance of taking responsibility and owning your behavior in many of the cases we see. In many cases a client who admits their mistake and does not blame others or make excuses for their behavior is a lot more likely to avoid prison than the client who denies the truth, accuses others of lying and refuses to acknowledge the things they have done. Instead of the confession being the worst fact in a case, we sometimes see it as the best fact and the biggest reason our clients should and will be given a break and allowed to pursue treatment instead of a long prison sentence.
Our Approach When Our Client Has Confessed
A confession or admission of responsibility for at least some of what is alleged against them is the first step in getting the treatment and support that will insure this doesn’t happen again. We like to begin this process of evaluation and treatment as soon as possible, sometimes even months before charges are actually filed, to get as far ahead as we can. A client who has confessed will almost invariably need a psychosexual evaluation in order to assess their need for treatment, their amenability to treatment, and their risk to the community if they are allowed to do treatment rather than go to prison. This evaluation is a critical stage in the process and must be done before a person can enroll in treatment. At the Meryhew Law Group we have pioneered a method for preparing a client for a psychosexual evaluation that improves your chance of success by emphasizing the critical importance of complete honesty in the process. A psychosexual evaluation can establish that our client is low risk to the community, amenable to specialized sex offender treatment, and has a high chance of success in treatment. This mitigation material can then persuade a Prosecutor to resolve the case with a focus on treatment and rehabilitation rather than just on punishment.
Demonstrating a commitment to getting help and to change is often the key. Once the psychosexual evaluation is done, we ask our clients to immediately enroll in specialized sex offender treatment with a certified provider. This treatment is typically done in both individual and group settings, though it can be done just individually for clients who have needs the group cannot accommodate. Group therapy helps the clients build a stronger understanding of what will be expected of them as their case proceeds. The advice and feedback of other people who have been through this process can be powerful in helping a client find their way to a new future. Many of our clients have several months of treatment under their belts before their case is resolved. That gives them a huge advantage in their own ability to plan for the consequences of a sex offense conviction, and it gives the attorney at the Meryhew Law Group a huge advantage in negotiating the cases with the Prosecutor, as well as demonstrating the client’s seriousness to the Court for sentencing. Being proactive insures the best possible outcome in Court and helps our clients to address and overcome their many anxieties about their future with a sex offense on their record.
Sentencing Alternatives for Those Who Admit Their Offense
Washington law provides for a sentencing alternative to a long prison sentence for sex offenders who admit their offenses and meet other criteria. The Special Sexual Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) is available to offenders who are charged with a sex offense but have no prior sex offenses. Under SSOSA an offender will be sentenced to anywhere from 0 to 12 months in the County Jail, and then be released into the community to complete sex offender treatment and follow a very strict set of rules regarding their behavior in the community. The Court also imposes a long prison sentence, but that sentence is suspended so long as the person continues to do well in sex offender treatment and does not commit any major violations of the strict rules they must follow. If they do violate those rules, or if they are charged with a new crime, their suspended sentence can be revoked, and they are sent to prison to serve that term.
There are similar treatment alternatives for our juvenile Court clients. The Special Sexual Offender Dispositional Alternative is offered to clients in juvenile court when they take responsibility, participate in a very thorough evaluation, and complete a rigorous specialized sex offender treatment program. In these cases, the State pays for the treatment and the person is eligible to be relieved of the duty to register and have their record of conviction sealed in as little as two years from the date of their sentencing. A mistake as a juvenile no longer has to follow someone for life.
Even for clients whose cases do not qualify for a SSOSA or a SSODA sentence, our focus on treatment and rehabilitation can persuade Prosecutor’s to find a resolution that avoids a long prison sentence. In some jurisdictions we see cases that could have had a prison sentence, such as Child Pornography or Internet Sting cases, resolved with a short jail sentence and probation and treatment rather than a long prison sentence. The key to these resolutions is putting together a mitigation packet for the Prosecutor’s to consider which includes a favorable psychosexual evaluation, a passed polygraph examination, favorable treatment progress reports, strong letters of support from the community and family members, and a strong Personal Statement. Putting together those mitigation packets is the focus of our work in these cases, with proven results.
Seattle Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
If you have already confessed to a sexual offense, or if you want to take responsibility but you are terrified and don’t know how, please contact the Meryhew Law Group to arrange a free initial consultation with an experienced sex crimes defense attorney. We can discuss your case with you and whelp you understand how to turn that confession into an advantage to you rather than a disadvantage. Call the Meryhew Law Group today for a free initial consultation.
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