A Guide To Understanding Missouri Criminal Sentencing

The legal field is full of abbreviations and legal jargon that the average citizen does not understand. This is especially unhelpful when you are faced with criminal charges and don’t understand what possible sentences really mean.

What are SIS and SES?

The two most common types of sentences in Missouri are what are called SIS and SES.

SIS stands for Suspended Imposition of Sentence.

This is what the typical person understands as probation for lesser offenses. So, for example, if a prosecutor offers you a deal of SIS 3, that is the equivalent of the prosecutor offering you three years of probation with no designated sentence.

So, with an SIS, if the person successfully completes probation, the conviction will not appear on their record and they won’t face jail time.

However, if probation isn’t completed successfully, then the person’s probation is revoked and the entire original range of punishment is available to the judge when he/she chooses to sentence the person.

SES stands for Suspended Execution of Sentence.

The difference here between SES and SIS is that an SES issues a sentence, and it is a conviction regardless of whether or not the person completes probation successfully. With SES if your probation gets revoked, it is revoked to the previously issued sentence.

For example, if someone is given a sentence of 4 SES 2, that person is given two years of probation, but if it gets revoked, the person will serve four years in jail.

The number before “SES” is what the issued sentence is, and that sentence is suspended by the number after “SES”, which is the term of probation. Using the 4 SES 2 example from above, successful completion of probation will still show up as a conviction, but you will not serve jail time.


To be sentenced to a diversion program, one must be determined to be eligible for such a program. Diversion is often used in drug court cases. If one completes the diversion program successfully, then the case is dismissed. The diversion program is done prior to a plea.

4/120 ITC

For rehabilitative sentences, the format can look quite odd. A person is sentenced to four years (or whichever number of years) in prison pursuant to Missouri statute (R.S.Mo. § 559.115). The almost standard sentence of this time (at least in Jackson County) is “4/120 ITC.”

The person charged will do 120 days in a treatment program and the judge will review that person’s progress. If all is going well, then they will be released to serve probation which is the number of years sentenced.

The 120 days can be either Institutional Treatment Center (a drug treatment program), a general population, or shock (shock is an alternative program to incarceration, which provides a different environment for young/non-violent offenders to provide help to promote reintegration).


This is the most serious type of sentence to receive. MDAI stands for Missouri Division of Adult Institutions, which is essentially the Department of Corrections. This type of sentence means that there is no probation offered and it is simply prison time.

An example of such a sentence is 6 years MDAI, which says that the person should be sentenced to six years in prison.

Time Served

Time served usually applies when someone has been in custody and/or has prior convictions. An example is when someone is arrested for the offense and does not make bail and, if a low-level offense, they might be eligible for time served if the time they have been in custody equates to the typical sentence for the offense.

When sentenced to time served, the prosecutors will typically say some time that is shorter than the time the person actually served so that they do not have to serve any more time in jail.

More on Criminal Sentencing?

For more information about criminal defense law, or criminal sentencing, browse our criminal FAQ, give us a call at 816-679-1547, or request a free consultation here.

by Rico Robinson

Owner and Managing Partner, at Hale Robinson & Robinson.