What Does Probation Mean?

Sometimes my clients are put on probation. It happens when there is clear and convincing evidence that they are guilty as charged beyond a reasonable doubt and they do not want to take the risk at trial of being found guilty and going to jail. What does probation mean?

Probation in Missouri can cover a lot of things. There are two types of outcomes that can lead to a person being put on probation.


The Court can suspend the imposition of sentence (SIS) and put an individual on probation or suspend the execution of the sentence (SES) and put an individual on probation.

Let me explain. There are only a few outcomes when a person is charged with a crime. One is that they go to trial and are found not guilty. I have that happen many times. They can also go to trial and be found guilty. They can plead guilty by plea bargaining. Or the charge could be dismissed.

In order to be put on probation there must be a finding of guilt either by a verdict of guilty or a plea of guilty. Then the Judge has to decide whether to grant a SES or an SIS.


If the Judge gives a person probation with an SES it means the person has a conviction and has been given a sentence but that sentence is SUSPENDED. That means so long as the person successfully completes probation they will not have to serve the sentence. But if they violate the terms of the probation the Judge will execute the sentence and send the person to jail.


If the probation is with an SIS it means there is no conviction. If the person satisfactorily completes the probation there will be nothing on that person’s record that shows they were convicted of the crime. That does not mean law enforcement agencies will not be aware of the arrest and charge being filed. If the person violates the probation then the Judge has the discretion to sentence that person to any punishment available under the statute.

The probation may be monitored by the Missouri State Board of Probation and Parole or by a private agency

There can be widely varying conditions of probation. I discuss those on other blog posts.