What is an SOC?

It is relatively common in many Western Washington district and municipal courts to have a case resolved by way of a Stipulated Order of Continuance (SOC). A SOC is a negotiated outcome by which a defendant enters into a contractual agreement with the state or city government that is prosecuting the case against him. If the defendant follows his end of the bargain, the government will move to dismiss the case at the end of the period of the agreement (often two years). If, alternatively, a defendant fails to meet his end of the bargain, the government will ask the court to find that the Defendant is in violation of the terms of the contract and thus request that the court find the defendant guilty of the pending charge; usually the defendant has agreed to the sufficiency and admissibility of the incident report submitted in his case when entering into the SOC. SOC agreements arise in many different settings, but are most common in Domestic Violence (DV) related cases:

DV related SOC’s often require that a defendant undergo some form of treatment. As a general rule, successful completion of an SOC in a DV related case will require participation in, and completion of, a state approved domestic violence or batterer’s treatment program, and if alcohol is involved in the alleged incident, possibly alcohol counseling.

In addition to the above, some governmental bodies will require that in a DV related case an order prohibiting contact with the victim be put in place as a condition of an SOC. Others will want an NCO in place until a certain amount of counseling has been completed. It is important to remember that if no contact is made part of the SOC, a violation of the order would have dire consequences. First, the violation could cause the SOC to be revoked which would result, most likely, in an automatic finding of guilt on the underlying DV charge. Second, the violation would constitute a whole new crime called Violation of a No Contact Order. If entering into an SOC, always try to negotiate the NCO out of the agreement or at a bare minimum, set up as part of the SOC a timeline in which the NCO can be removed. This will help protect yourself and your SOC as you move forward.

There are a variety of other less affirmative conditions that a court might choose to impose as part of an SOC. For example, a defendant might be ordered to pay certain court costs, assessments and probation fees. Additionally, he might be required to commit no further criminal law violations nor possess weapons. There really is no limit to the kinds of things the parties can agree upon as part of an SOC.

To learn more about SOC’s contact the Seattle criminal defense lawyers at SQ Attorneys. The litigators that make up the legal team of SQ Attorneys are highly trained and qualified Seattle criminal attorneys. They fight to protect the rights and interests of those people accused of committing a crime. SQ Attorneys understands that there can be two sides to any story, and they will work to ensure that their client’s story is heard without risk of further incrimination. The SQ team is designed to create success by working with law enforcement and with the prosecuting attorney’s office so as to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations brought against the accused are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances. If accused of a crime, protect your rights – contact SQ Attorneys – (206) 441-0900, (425) 988-8384; it will be the best decision you make all day!

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