Is a Suspended Imposition of Sentence on my Criminal Record?
A Suspended Imposition of Sentence, or “SIS” as it’s commonly referred to, is a hybrid disposition, and common tool used in Missouri as a means of ending criminal cases.
Essentially, it is an agreement between the parties (generally the Defendant and the Prosecutor) that allows everyone to get some of what they want. The defendant pleads guilty without a trial but saves his criminal record because there is never a “sentence” entered into the criminal system. How does it work? Well, it’s largely based on an agreeable technicality. SIS “Suspended Imposition of Sentence” is not a criminal conviction for purposes of a criminal record.
A person is not deemed to have been Convicted unless it is shown that a Judgment is pronounced following a verdict or plea of guilty. Judgment is not pronounced until sentencing occurs. Hence, the fact of being convicted occurs at the time of sentencing in Missouri, not at the time of being found or pleading guilty. Technically, (and only technically) one pleads guilty to a crime and remains not “convicted” until they are sentenced by the court. So why suspend the sentencing? You guessed it! No sentence = No Record Conviction.
What happens is this: The prosecutor wants this case and the other thousands of cases that day to move along. He or she wants and must encourage the criminal behavior to cease. The defendant wants to not be there, and more importantly, wants what may be “youthful indiscretion”, or a “temporary lapse in judgment” not to harm his future. The SIS can achieve all of this. Most often we see the use of the “SIS” in the situation of first-time DWI offenders here in Missouri, or other crimes charged in the municipal or associate courts. The parties agree that if the defendant pleads guilty, the court will hold the file without conducting the sentencing, and the defendant agrees to do certain things, such as treatment classes, probation, community service, fines, and on and on. As long as the defendant lives up to his or her end of the deal, the case is closed without sentencing. If, however, a defendant fails to do what was agreed upon, say for example does not complete probation, or take a class, or maybe go through a treatment program, then the Judge conducts sentencing on the charge, and then, there is a conviction. Some have likened this to the state providing the noose, and the defendant voluntarily using it. The lesson here is…”don’t use it”.
The use of a Suspended Imposition of Sentence can be a useful negotiated agreement in Missouri criminal procedure. You should consult with a Missouri criminal defense lawyer before entering into such an arrangement to make sure you are receiving what you want. It’s important to also keep in mind that the term criminal record has many different meanings, in that this article addresses the state criminal records, and not the NCIC, which is kept by the federal government. In addition, the SIS is not to be confused with the SES “Suspended Execution of Sentence”, which has an entirely different effect. As with any legal matter, it is also advisable to consult with an attorney when charged with a crime.
O’Fallon, MO 63366