In a Washington criminal case, the court must generally impose a sentence within the standard sentence range. RCW 9.94A.505. In some circumstances, however, the court may deviate from the standard range. These exceptions include exceptional sentences, first-time offender waivers, and Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA). DOSA allows a reduced sentence, treatment, and increased supervision for certain non-violent drug offenders with a goal to help them recover from addiction. The DOSA statute sets forth the criteria for qualifying for special sentencing and provides for both prison-based and residential chemical dependency treatment-based alternatives. RCW 9.94A.660. Under the statute, the residential chemical dependency treatment-based alternative is only available if the midpoint of the standard range is not greater than 24 months.
In a recent case, the state challenged the imposition of a residential-based DOSA sentence because the defendant’s standard range midpoint was greater than 24 months. According to the opinion, the defendant twice sold his prescription Suboxone strips to a police informant within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. He was charged with two counts of delivering the drug, each with a sentence enhancement for delivering within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. The standard sentence range for the defendant, based on his offender score and the seriousness of the crime, was 12 to 20 months, plus a 24-month enhancement for each count.
The state offered a deal that would drop one count and recommend prison-based DOSA for the other. This would have resulted in 20 months in prison and 20 months in community custody. The state rejected the defendant’s counter offer to plead guilty if the state removed the school-zone enhancements so he could serve a residential-based DOSA rather than a prison-based DOSA.