The distinction between what a suspended imposition of sentence (“SIS”) versus a suspended execution of sentence (“SES”) is a common question.
First off, both terms in Missouri law are used solely in the context of criminal, not civil, cases. A SIS is where the defendant pleads guilty and is placed on probation for a period of time — usually two years. During this probation, the defendant is required to adhere to several conditions of the probation as ordered by the pertinent court and the Department of Justice Services. The terms of the probation are in the discretion of the prosecuting attorney and/or judge, but they are primarily influenced by what the underlying felony/misdemeanor the defendant is charged with. If, for example, the defendant is charged with larceny (i.e., theft), then usually a probation will require that the defendant attend a larceny program/seminar. A defendant charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) will, among other things, generally be ordered to attend Substance Abuse Traffic Offender’s Program (SATOP).
If the probation is completed, the SIS is considered to be a guilty plea, but not a “conviction” for anything other than law enforcement purposes. Failure to follow the terms of probation will result in a revocation hearing being ordered at which time the judge may find that probation was violated, and then order a sentence within the full range of punishment for the crime convicted.
A SES is when a defendant is ordered a jail or prison sentence by the court, but the court suspends the sentence, in whole or in part. A SES for all intents and purposes is a conviction, but the Court allows the defendant an opportunity to complete probation instead of serving the jail or prison sentence imposed. The record is an open record and will remain so even after the probation is completed or the sentence served.
The Defendant’s decision whether to take a SIS (or request an SES) will depend completely on the facts of a given case.