The Drug Sentencing Alternative | DOSA. A Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Perspective.
As criminal defense attorneys, we have seen good clients and their families struggle with almost every form of drug addiction and the inevitable criminal charges or convictions that come with it. Be it opioids, cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamine, or weed, “it is hard to get enough of something that almost works” and eventually the behavior goes from recreational or experimental use to out of control in cases of addiction.
We have seen addiction lead to assaults, domestic violence and, of course, a wide variety of theft and property crimes. We have seen clients from every walk of life face criminal convictions and prison because of addiction. We have seen multiple prison sentences have no effect on addictive behavior; however, we have also seen a first criminal charge or conviction completely change a person’s direction, life and relationship with drugs, specifically opioids (one of the toughest to quit). In our experience, it depends on the attitude and goals of the individual. The Drug Sentencing Alternative, commonly called a DOSA, is only for our clients who have hit rock bottom, are really interested in changing and are open to help from others. It helps to have strong family support. This program involves a lot of treatment, court appearances and meetings. An individual who is in this program will have a hard time managing the demands of this schedule alone: we have seen it happen but the individuals and situations were exceptional.
So how do clients qualify for The Drug Sentencing Alternative | DOSA?
A detailed discussion with a experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney | lawyer about DOSA sentences is a 1-2 hour process, but some of the major practical points from the authorizing Code sections (RCW 9.94A.660, 9.94A.662, 9.94A.664) include:
- You cannot be facing conviction of a violent or sexual charge (as defined by RCW 9.94A.030) or have used a firearm or deadly weapon in the commission of your crime. This includes past convictions up to 10 years old. The DOSA program is not designed to deal with violent or sexually abusive defendants.
- The Drug Sentencing Alternative | DOSA is for users not dealers, although there is an exception for “a small quantity of the particular controlled substance as determined by the judge upon consideration of such factors as the weight, purity, packaging, sale price, and street value of the controlled substance”. In some ways, this is terribly unfair as users often deal. There is some flexibility but not much.
- You must be facing a standard sentence that is greater than one year.
- You cannot seek a DOSA for a felony DUI.
- You cannot be facing or potentially face deportation during the program.
- The judge has total discretion to order the Drug Sentencing Alternative | DOSA and will require an evaluation and detailed information about any prospective offender who is interested in entering this program. In addition, qualifying for the program may require work on the part of your criminal defense lawyer | attorney to make sure that the charges you plead to qualify. Anyone considering this option must be able to openly admit they are an addict and expect to have his or her life and decision to enter this program questioned by the court. Your lawyer will be essential in preparing you for this process. Removal from the program puts you back in prison for the remainder of your sentence.
- If you fail the program, you will go to jail to serve your full sentence and you will get no credit for the time you spent in the program (except time you spent in jail).
What happens if I am sentenced to the Drug Sentencing Alternative | DOSA?
Entering a DOSA program allows for one of two roads to recovery:
A DOSA primarily Residential Treatment Based Option or DOSA primarily Prison Based Option.
The criminal defense lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled an enormous number of complicated cases in the criminal arena over the course of our lengthy criminal law careers. We are interested in helping clients and families pursue sentencing alternatives under the right set of facts and will fight vigorously to achieve that result. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police reports claim and our clients hire us because they want staunch and effective counsel who takes the time to make sure their rights are protected. Whether our role is as legal counsel, negotiator, or litigator, we have years of experience fighting and resolving cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.