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On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2023 | Criminal Law

Suspended Imposition of Sentence, Pardons, and Expungements are three distinct legal concepts related to criminal records in the United States. Understanding the differences between these terms can be crucial for those who have been charged with a crime and are seeking relief from the consequences of a criminal record.

Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) refers to a court’s decision to delay the imposition of a sentence and conviction for a criminal offense. In other words, the court will refrain from convicting an individual if certain conditions, such as completing probation, are met. If the conditions are fulfilled, the individual will avoid having a criminal conviction on their record. However, if the conditions are not met, the court can impose the sentence and the individual will have a criminal conviction. The sentencing court only has two years from when the sentence is imposed or the written judgement and sentence is filed to modify a sentence and grant a suspended imposition of sentence if it is not given at the time of sentencing.

Pardons, on the other hand, refer to a legal process by which an individual’s guilt is forgiven by the state. This is done by the executive brand of government. A pardon can be granted by the governor of a state or the President of the United States, and it usually involves a formal request and a thorough review process. In South Dakota that review process is done by the Board of Pardons and parole. The forms for requesting a Pardon can be found on the Board’s website. Once the form is completed and sent back to the board, they will sent a recommendation to the governor on whether to approve or deny the request. A pardon does not erase the record of the crime, but it can provide relief from the consequences of having a criminal record, such as the ability to vote or the eligibility for certain jobs.

Expungements, also known as record sealing, are a court-ordered process that involves the physical destruction or sealing of criminal records. Unlike a pardon, an expungement actually removes the criminal record from public view and erases the record from most databases. However, certain agencies, such as law enforcement and the FBI, will still have access to the record. Expungements usually require the individual to wait one year after ALL the charges in a case have been dismissed.

In conclusion, while SIS, pardons, and expungements all relate to criminal records, they are distinct legal concepts that offer different forms of relief. Individuals seeking relief from the consequences of a criminal record should carefully consider their options and consult with an experience South Dakota criminal defense attorney like Sonny Walter to determine which option is best for them.