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The Presentence Investigation and Report (PSI)

What is the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report?
  • A report prepared by a probation agent describing the background and character of the person being sentenced.
  • It is written prior to the sentencing hearing.
  • Information may be gathered from the defendant, his or her family members, the victim(s), and any other individuals important in the Defendant’s background.

    It contains information such as:

    • prior criminal convictions and juvenile adjudications.
    • description of the offense.
    • the defendant’s vocational background and work history.
    • defendant’s martial status, financial status, length of residence in the community, educational background and other pertinent data.
    • medical history, substance abuse history, and psychological or psychiatric history.
    • harm suffered by any victim.
    • victim’s impact statement.
    • defendant’s statement.
    • applicable sentencing guidelines.
    • evaluation of the defendant’s probable adjustment in the community based upon factual information in the report.
    • sentencing recommendations including any consecutive sentencing requirements.
Why is the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report Important?
  • A report prepared by a probation agent describing the background and character of the person being sentenced.
  • It is written prior to the sentencing hearing.
  • Information may be gathered from the defendant, his or her family members, the victim(s), and any other individuals important in the Defendant’s background.

    It contains information such as:

    • prior criminal convictions and juvenile adjudications.
    • description of the offense.
    • the defendant’s vocational background and work history.
    • defendant’s martial status, financial status, length of residence in the community, educational background and other pertinent data.
    • medical history, substance abuse history, and psychological or psychiatric history.
    • harms uffered by any victim.
    • victim’s impact statement.
    • defendant’s statement.
    • applicable sentencing guidelines.
    • evaluation of the defendant’s probable adjustment in the community based upon factual information in the report.
    • sentencing recommendations including any consecutive sentencing requirements.
    • The judge uses the PSI to aid in determining the sentence.
    • If sentenced to prison, the Department of Corrections uses the PSI to determine programming and placement.
  • For example,
    • inmates without a high school education will be assigned to GED classes.
    • inmates with any suggestion of a criminal sexual conduct charge (not necessarily a conviction) will be denied the opportunity to go to a Corrections Center.
    • inmates with substance abuse histories may be required to participate in related programming.
  • The date of your parole can be affected by:
    • your age at the time of your first arrest.
    • the presence or absence of substance abuse problem.
    • whether you committed a felony as a juvenile.
    • the nature of your present offense.
    • disciplinary and good time credits (if available).
    • your criminal history, including:
      • assaultive misdemeanors.
      • jail sentences received.
      • felony convictions (assaultive and non-assaultive).
      • prior prison terms.
      • prior probation and parole sentences and probation and parole failures.
What Should you do?
  • The court must permit you to review the PSI at a reasonable time before the day of sentencing. Insist that you see a copy of the Pre-sentence investigation prior to the day of your sentencing.
  • Read it very carefully. Note any errors.
  • Notify your attorney of all errors, and request that s/he notify the court of those errors. If your attorney fails to do so, you speak up at the time of sentencing.
  • The court must rule on any challenges. If the court finds the challenge has merit or determines that it will not take the challenged information into account in sentencing, it must direct the probation officer to:
    • correct or delete the information
    • provide your lawyer with an opportunity to review the corrected report before it is sent to the Department of Corrections.
  • If the court does not rule in your favor in making changes to the PSI,ask your lawyer to state (in court) that you would like to appeal that decision. If your attorney does not make such a statement,you should do so. The court record of intent makes appeal faster and easier.
  • If you have not had time to review the PSI, tell the judge at the time of sentencing. Ask for time to review it. Remember, inaccurate information could cost you years.
  • If you did not plea bargain to a less charge, be certain that the PSI does not indicate that you did.
Caution!!!
  • Do not underestimate the potential impact of negative information on the PSI.
  • Inaccurate information could cost you years of your life…
  • Inaccurate information could also result in improper placement and programming within the Department of Corrections.
  • If the PSI errors are not found until after sentencing, the only way to correct it is to file for resentencing. That is a lengthy procedure with no guarantees of success.
Remember
  • Though probation agents are required to verify material information before including it in the PSI, inaccurate statements are sometimes included in the document.
  • Even if you have an acceptable plea bargain, the Department of Corrections uses information of the PSI. It is important that it be accurate.
  • Be certain that all members of your immediate family, including anyone who raised you as a child, are listed in the PSI. You will not be allowed a sick-bed or funeral visit for anyone not listed in your PSI.
  • The defendant is responsible for challenging the accuracy of the PSI.
  • If you know of someone who is being sentenced, and who cannot read, be certain that someone reads the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report to the defendant. Be certain that s/he knows how important the document is.
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