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Washington v. Ziegler

February 6, 1991

THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, APPELLANT,
v.
RHONDA ZIEGLER, RESPONDENT



Alexander, J. Petrich, A.c.j., and Morgan, J., concur.

Author: Alexander

The State of Washington appeals a judgment of the Lewis County Superior Court in which that court suspended a 27-month sentence it had imposed on Rhonda Ziegler for the crime of second degree rape of a child. The State contends that the sentencing court was without authority to suspend the sentence because Ziegler was not sexually deviant. We affirm.

Rhonda Ziegler was charged in Lewis County Superior Court with second degree rape of a child. RCW 9A.44.076. The information alleged that Ziegler, "together with another," engaged in sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old child. The evidence produced at the jury trial revealed that Ziegler had talked the child into having sexual relations with Ziegler's boyfriend. The motivation for this conduct,

as testified to by a witness, was that Ziegler "had went out on [her boyfriend]" and, therefore, the boyfriend "felt he had the right to go out on her and that he was going to take somebody else to bed." The jury found Ziegler guilty of the charge.*fn1

On August 31, 1989, the trial court sentenced Ziegler to 27 months in jail but it suspended the sentence pursuant to the provisions of RCW 9.94A.120(7)(a), the so-called sex offender sentencing alternative (SOSA).*fn2

In entering its order, the sentencing court concluded that Ziegler had no prior criminal convictions, was amenable to treatment and that the community and Ziegler would "benefit from a sentence under RCW 9.94A.120(7)(a)." A condition of the suspended sentence was that Ziegler serve 270 days in the county jail (90 days being converted to community service) and successfully complete "any inpatient or outpatient quasi-sex offender treatment within thirty days and follow any recommendation which Trudy Hoy might make."*fn3

The State appealed the judgment, arguing that the sexual offender sentencing alternative should not have been utilized by the sentencing court because Ziegler was not a sexual deviant. It contended then, as it does now, that only persons who are "amenable to treatment" for sexual deviancy may benefit from a suspended sentence as an alternative to total confinement.

The applicable statute is RCW 9.94A.120(7)(a). At the time of sentencing*fn4 it provided, as follows:

When an offender is convicted of a sex offense other than a violation of RCW 9A.44.040 or RCW 9A.44.050 and has no prior convictions for a sex offense or any other felony sexual offenses in this or any other state, the sentencing court, on its own motion or the motion of the state or the defendant, may order an examination to determine whether the defendant is amenable to treatment.

After receipt of the reports, the court shall then determine whether the offender and the community will benefit from use of this special sexual offender sentencing alternative. If the court determines that both the offender and the community will benefit from use of this provision, the court shall then impose a sentence within the sentence range and, if this sentence is less than six years of confinement, the court may suspend the execution of the sentence and place the offender on community supervision for up to two years. As a condition of the suspended sentence, the court may impose other sentence conditions including up to six months of confinement, ...


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