Suspended Imposition of Sentence

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It is not uncommon for someone with a first-time DWI to be placed on SIS probation as a part of their DWI plea agreement. Oftentimes, attorneys won't fully explain what an SIS probation is, how it can affect you during the length of the probation, and what impact it will have on you later in life.

  1. What does SIS stand for?
  2. SIS stands for "Suspended Imposition of Sentence," and essentially it means that the court is withholding your sentence for a period of time. Missouri law allows courts to supervise you for a period of time, either with or without probation, after you enter your plea. If you successfully follow the court's orders during that time period, no further sentence will be imposed. An SIS is not a final judgment and cannot be appealed, it's more like a test period, where the court is saying, "if you can show me that you can follow the law for a while, we will put this matter to rest."

  3. Will I have a permanent record from this?
  4. This is a very good question, and isn't always easy to answer. During your probationary period, your case will remain open and will appear to be pending to anyone who does a background check on you. Many attorneys will tell you that at the end of the SIS period, your record will be closed. This is true, but it isn't the whole story.

    Missouri law states that when there is an SIS, "official records pertaining to the case shall thereafter be closed records when such case is finally terminated[...]." RSMO 610.105.1. So, the general public will not be able to see the disposition of the case.

    However, child care agencies, elderly care facilities, and in-home service provider agencies will always have access to the information, and it can never be expunged from your record. In addition to this, the record of your arrest will still exist. So if an application asks you if you have ever been arrested, answering no would be dishonest.

    Finally, the information would also be available to prosecutors through the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) if you are ever charged with another crime, and can be used to enhance sentencing by showing prior or persistent criminal behavior. Police officers will be able to see this as well, and it may give them a heightened awareness in dealing with you in the future that you have a history of driving while intoxicated.

  5. What will I have to do if I accept an SIS probation offer?
  6. This will depend on which court you are being charged through, what you are being charged with, and what the prosecutor is recommending.

    -Guilty Plea --Anytime someone accepts an SIS offer, the first step is to enter a guilty plea with the court. This isn't optional; it's an absolute requirement in order to be placed on SIS probation. Rarely, a court will allow you to do a plea by mail, but this is only in extraordinary circumstances. Most likely you will have to appear in court with your attorney to enter your plea.

    -Length of Probation --Typically an SIS for a DWI lasts for two years.

    -Supervision Level--
    Bench Probation: If you are being charged through a smaller municipal court, the probation is often unsupervised and does not require regular visits with a probation officer. You will be expected to refrain from any criminal acts during the term of probation.

    Supervised Probation: In larger municipal courts and circuit courts, the prosecutor will often ask for supervised probation. In these cases, you will have a probation officer you will have to meet with at least once, and in some cases you will have to meet with them regularly for a portion or all of the probation period.

    -Requirements of Probation--Usually, when you are placed on probation you will be given certain requirements that you must fulfill in order to successfully complete probation. This always includes paying all courts costs and fines within a certain period of time. In addition to this, the Court may require that you refrain from drinking and driving; ask you to complete certain classes, like SATOP or VIP; have you perform a certain number of community service hours; and/or, require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. There are a number of other things that can be required of you as well, depending upon your particular case.

    Costs of Probation--In addition to any court costs and fines, there can also be costs for probation as well. Oftentimes, a bench (unsupervised) probation will not have additional costs. However, supervised probation always involves additional fees for your supervision. You will be required to pay those fees either up front or in monthly installments, depending on the court and the probation service they use.

  7. Should I accept an SIS offer?
  8. This is going to depend wholly on the facts of your case and your personal situation. An SIS can be a really great deal for many people. It generally doesn't require any jail time and, for most industries, won't have a long-term impact on your career. The pros and cons of accepting an SIS offer are highly personal and case-sensitive, so you should weigh your options carefully and discuss the matter fully with your attorney.

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