What is an SIS or Suspended Imposition of Sentence

Having worked hundreds of criminal defense cases in St. Louis, Combs Law Group has faced this exact question (what is an SIS?) from a considerable amount of our clients. It’s a common question because in many of our cases we encounter SIS as the final outcome for the client. The state of Missouri and it’s courts utilize SIS protocol to gain a guilty plea from a defendant in exchange for avoiding a conviction and subsequently place that defendant on probation for a specific term. Therefore, an SIS in MO is a particular type of probation the courts will impose for the defendant. The exact meaning of SIS is “Suspended Imposition of Sentence” and it indicates that no sentence is defined at the time the probation is set. The courts, however, will retain the right to impose a sentence if/when the client causes their probation to be revoked. The actual sentence can be anywhere within the statutory range for that particular felony or misdemeanor conviction. Essentially what it means is that the courts will opt to place you on probation instead of sentencing you for your crimes, setting the imposition of the case aside until probation is completed. This gives the defendant the chance to show the courts that he or she is capable of maintaining a clean criminal record throughout the probation period. For an SIS probation the defendant has the opportunity to avoid any conviction by successfully completing the probation. This occurs when the probation stipulations are met and the case becomes close record in the State under the Missouri Sunshine Law. That means that the conviction will not show up on your criminal record and you could truthfully say that you do not have a conviction on your employment applications. The one exception to that is the arrest will show up for any others subsequent criminal charges and can be used against you in those proceedings.

What is an SES or Suspended Execution of Sentence

Again, this is a question we are consistently having to answer with our clients. It’s less common than an SIS in the cases we’ve handled primarily because we fight hard to get our clients an SIS. An SES is a “Suspended Execution of Sentence” and it’s similar to an SIS in the sense that you are given probation instead of jail time. However, with an SES in MO, the courts will specify a specific sentence at the time of conviction and then suspend that sentence. So even if you walk through your probation without any issues and complete it successfully, the conviction will still show up on your record. That’s a big difference in terms of the long term impact on a defendants life. That’s why it’s critical you work with a reputable St. Louis criminal defense attorney like Combs Law Group. Sometimes it’s very hard to get the courts to opt for the SIS over the SES, and it typically depends on your criminal background, the evidence of the case, relationship with prosecutors, etc. However, there are legal tactics we employ with our clients that look to preempt the courts before the determination is made on an SIS vs SES.

Factors In Obtaining An SIS versus SES

In most criminal cases the decision as to whether a client gets an SIS versus SES is usually determined by the advocacy of the attorney you choose and how hard they fight the case. Therefore, it’s critical to work with an attorney who can develop a strong case for you to present to the Prosecutor. Without an attorney, you’re left trying to make your case yourself and that’s difficult for anyone who doesn’t know the rules and guidelines of the law, furthermore, prosecutors are more inclined to work with an attorney as opposed to a pro se or self-represented client. Working with a top criminal defense lawyer like Combs Law Group can be the difference in whether you receive an SIS or an SES from your charges. Furthermore, in some cases an SES is actually a good outcome for some of our clients. Read on to find out how we’ve utilized SIS probation and SES probation in recent cases we’ve handled for our clients.

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SIS DWI Case Story

Again, at Combs Law Group we deal with SIS and SES probations on a regular basis. For our clients we are constantly looking for ways to impress on the Prosecution that the people we represent are good people who made bad decisions. It is our job to put a face to your file and advocate strongly for you. Most of our clients are normally law abiding, tax paying citizens. They just happened to get caught up in a bad situation where they made a bad decision and the law caught up with them the one time they happened to break the law. When this is the case we look to get these clients an SIS and it’s typically a good option for both the client, Prosecutor, and the Judge. However, in some cases where the client has a criminal record we have to fight hard to obtain an SIS. It’s not always possible, but recently we were able to successfully garner an SIS on a client who had a recently been charged with his 3rd DWI. Now anyone who knows DWI laws in Missouri know that over the past 15 years the DWI penalties have increasingly become more severe. And you can argue that in some cases they are too harsh. However, the law is what it is and as criminal defense law firm, we have a moral and ethical responsibility and pride ourselves in getting our clients the best outcomes possible for their case.

In this particular case the client had been pulled over in a local St. Louis municipality after leaving from a restaurant and bar. He was mixing medication with alcohol and the combination caused him to pass out at a stop light whereupon a local police officer pulled up to investigate. The client agreed to a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test, which he failed, and was charged with a DWI. So although the BAC levels where only .09, the circumstances of the arrest weren’t looking good for the client.

When this client came to Combs Law Group we evaluated his case and made a determination that it would be a long shot to get him an SIS. This was his 3rd DWI and in most St. Louis jurisdictions, a 3rd DWI meant an SIS was not going to happen. However, as we started to look at the mitigating circumstances of the client and case we started to see a pathway to making a case to the Prosecutor for an SIS. Ultimately, the client was handed an SIS with probation terms of 2 years, which was a very good outcome for everyone involved. This was a client who was able to show the courts that he was dealing with his alcohol problem.

SES DWI Case Story

Now in some cases an SES probation, or Suspended Execution of Sentence, is a good outcome for clients with more extensive criminal records. A recent case we handled is a good example of this and we want to outline how the case was handled. The client had a criminal history of being caught up in a drug conspiracy in his late teens and served a considerable amount of time in Federal Prison, a case that Combs Law Group did not represent him on. Therefore, he was already a convicted felon and was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a felon. The initial plea offer from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office was 5 years incarceration in the Missouri Department of Corrections. However, after long and strenuous negotiations, Combs Law Group was able to secure a 5 year SES with 60 days house arrest. In this case, an SIS was not an option as gun crimes have become more common in St. Louis and the Courts are cracking down. In this instance, a felony conviction did not matter to the client as he was already a convicted felon. The goal in this case was to avoid jail time and an SES was able to offer that result, to which the client was very happy.

There are many factors that go into whether or not an SIS can be obtained over an SES, such as; the client’s criminal history, the facts of the case, the evidence, etc. However, with the right St. Louis criminal defense lawyer at your side you might improve your chances of receiving probation versus jail time and avoid a felony conviction. Combs Law Group is proud of the fact that we fight diligently and hard for an SIS whenever it is a possibility and in cases where the client has an extensive record we will fight just as hard for an SES.

If you’re currently facing a criminal charge in St. Louis, Missouri and you want to work with a reputable criminal lawyer in St. Louis. Call Combs Law Group today for a free case evaluation at 314-578-1465.

Violating SIS & SES Probation

Just a real quick comment on SES probation violations and SIS probation violations. In both cases, if you violate your probation by not meeting the stipulated terms you’re going to find yourself in trouble. Unfortunately, this occurs with some of our clients and we find ourselves going back to the drawing board. In our next post we’re going to cover Probation Violations and what to do when the courts or your probation/parole officer violates your probation. If this has just happened to you, call Combs Law Group, one of the best probation lawyers in St. Louis. Once your probation has been violated, you will have a probation violation hearing and will definitely want representation at that hearing. Check out our legal services for St. Louis Mo probation violations.

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About Chris Combs

A St. Louis native and graduate of Saint Louis University Law School, Chris Combs has been recognized as one of St. Louis' top criminal defense and personal injury attorneys. He is passionate about getting positive results for all his clients and values personal communication above all.

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