5 Things You Should Know About A Presentence Investigation Report

If you have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor, a presentence investigation report will be prepared for the judge before sentencing. These are the five things you should know about this report.

1. It is an important document that will influence how the judge is going to sentence you.

Your judge will be considering several factors to determine your sentence, including the laws regarding the crime you were convicted of, public safety issues, and the presentence report. There will be an investigation into your situation to determine:

  • What alternatives to incarceration might be preferable
  • The impact your crime had on the victims
  • The possibility of requiring restitution

The judge could use the recommendations in their entirety when determining your sentence.

2. Someone working with the probation department will prepare the report.

A probation officer, psychologist, or social worker from the probation department will do the investigation and prepare the report. They will start interviewing various people, including you, the victim, your family, the arresting officer, and more.

3. The report will follow you after sentencing.

The presentencing report will go not only to the judge but also to your assigned probation officer if you receive probation. If you are incarcerated, it will influence your classification in the detention facility.

4. There are things you can do to positively influence the report.

Some of the things you say during the interview could be quoted word-for-word in the report so it would be a good idea to consult with your attorney before the meeting with the probation official. You will want to be on time, dressed appropriately, and display a sincere, respectful demeanor.

You should be prepared to discuss these subjects during the interview:

  • Your version of events and reasoning regarding the criminal incident
  • Your prior criminal history
  • Your background including education, military record, employment history, and family of origin
  • Your physical and mental health
  • Any substance abuse problems you have
  • Your current circumstances and employment

You will also want to want to make a case for why probation or another type of alternative sentencing would be more appropriate than incarceration, given your circumstances.

5. Your  defense lawyer can help

There are several ways a defense lawyer, like those at Butts, Schneider & Butts LLP, can help you improve the report. One thing they would do is to meet with the probation officer to discuss things that may not have been admissible in court but are none-the-less relevant to the case.  To convince the officer and the judge that you are willing to take steps to improve your situation and reduce the likelihood of a future offense, they may help get you enrolled in school, a treatment facility, or a community service program.

Your lawyer may prepare a written statement outlining reasons for leniency or alternate sentencing. It's also possible that your attorney may think it would be worthwhile to hire a retired probation officer to write a private presentence report which could then be submitted to the judge.