After a person pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, the next phase in the criminal process is the sentencing hearing. At sentencing, the judge has a few options. In the broadest terms, the Court may:
1. Impose and execute a sentence within range allowed by the criminal statute.
2. Grant probation and suspend the imposition of a sentence (SIS).
3. Grant probation and suspend the execution of a sentence (SES).
With SIS probation, the judge withholds execution of the sentence, and will order the defendant to some period of probation (2 years maximum for misdemeanor; 5 years maximum for a felony). Whereas with SES probation, the judge will sentence the defendant to some punishment within the range of punishment for the offense, but will suspend its execution, such that the sentence imposed is left hanging over the defendant if the probation is violated.
SIS probation is often, but not always, given for first offense crimes as it is viewed as more lenient. Something to keep in mind, however, is that if a defendant is granted SIS probation, the full range of punishment is left hanging over the defendant’s head.
So for instance, imagine two people are found guilty of D Felony possession of a controlled substance. Person #1 receives an SIS, 5 years probation. Person #2 receives three years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, with SES, 5 years probation.
Both individuals violate their probation and are brought before the judge. Person #1 is facing up to 7 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, while person #2 faces a maximum of 3 years in prison.
Because of the serious ramifications of any sort of probation, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal attorney well ahead of trial or plea and sentencing.