A presentence investigation (PSI) is conducted prior to sentencing, but after a defendant has pled or been found guilty. PSIs are required in all federal cases and are almost always conducted in state felony cases.
During a PSI, an agent from the Department of Corrections (DOC), usually a probation or parole officer, will investigate the defendant’s background and compile a report for the judge to use in determining appropriate sentencing.
The DOC agent will interview the defendant and the defendant’s family, friends, and associates as well as the victim and the victim’s family to compile the report. The report includes details of the case and information on the defendant including past convictions, family life, employment history, financial position, and any health or substance abuse issues. It also includes the results of a psychological evaluation, which is intended to predict the likelihood of the defendant committing another crime.
The defendant can provide as much or as little information as he or she chooses, based on a lawyer’s advice. The report concludes with a recommendation by the agent on how the defendant and the public will be impacted by sentencing. The agent can give their personal opinions on the defendant’s character, remorsefulness, and sense of responsibility.
The PSI is an opportunity for the defendant to provide the court greater understanding of his or her circumstances and version of events and to accept responsibility for the crime. Judges are not bound to follow the recommendations in the PSI, but sometimes they can greatly impact the judge’s decisions and lead to a more favorable outcome for the defendant.
If you or a family member is awaiting sentencing, contact Tracey Wood & Associates today for a free consultation to discuss your presentence investigation.