Despite your best efforts and those of your attorney, you were still convicted of a DUI. Many states prescribe harsh punishments for people who drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol, such as large fines, license suspension, and jail time. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to reduce your risk of being sentenced to some or all of these penalties by improving your presentence report. Here's more information about what this document is, how it affects your case, and what you can do to make it more favorable towards you.
What Is a Presentence Report?
A presentence investigation report (PSIR) is a report put together by a probation officer, psychologist, or social worker that includes a variety of legal and extralegal information about a defendant and his or her case. It's a critical component of your criminal case that can have a significant and long-reaching impact on it.
First, the report typically includes sentencing recommendations and is given to the judge who uses it to help him or her determine what punishment the defendant should receive. Second, if the judge sentences the person to jail time, the PSIR is used to determine in which correctional facility the defendant should serve his or her time. Lastly, the report may be used to determine whether a defendant is eligible or requires certain types of correctional programs.
Suffice to say, making an effort to improve the quality of the report may mean the difference between being put in jail for years or avoiding jail altogether.
How Presentence Reports Work
The probation officer (or other assigned personnel) uses the time between the conviction and sentencing to gather a variety of information about the defendant and the case, including the following:
- Previous criminal history (juvenile and adult)
- Parole or probation history
- Pending cases
- Current criminal case with information about the offense, any plea bargains, and custody status
- Community involvement and ties
- Physical and mental health
- Socioeconomic status and financial health
- Employment history
- Education history
- Military record
- Substance abuse history
The officer will also collect victim impact statements and interview people in the defendant's social circle including the person's attorney to get a clearer picture of the individual and his or her circumstances.
Either before or during the information collection phase, the officer will conduct personal interviews with the defendant in the case and talk about all or most of the previously mentioned items. The purpose is to learn more about the person and judge whether or not the punishment called for by the criminal code is appropriate for the individual. These interviews are where you can have the biggest impact on the outcome of your presentence report if you are cooperative and prepared.
Tips for Making a Good Impression
A professional attorney, like Andrew H P Norton, will work with you and on your behalf to ensure the presentence report contains as much positive information about you as possible. However, there are a few things you can do to also improve your chances of avoiding jail.
First, it's important to be honest with the interviewer. Remember, the officer is conducting a separate investigation into your life and will know whether or not you are lying. Not only can getting caught in a lie make it harder for the officer to believe anything you say, the fact that you lied will be added to the report and affect your sentencing.
Second, research alternative sentencing options such as substance abuse treatment, and discuss the possibility of going into rehab rather than jail. The officer may consider recommending this if it appears you have a drinking or drug problem and can benefit from getting treatment to kick the habit.
Third, bring evidence with you to the interview to back up any claims you make. For instance, if you tell the officer you are a good employee, bring employee evaluations showing what your employer thinks of your work.
For more information about presentence reports or assistance preparing for an interview, contact a criminal defense attorney near you.