In almost all criminal cases in Colorado courts, a judge wants to know more about a defendant before sentencing. So, they will order a Presentence Investigative Report or PSI in order to better understand a defendant’s history and character before a sentence is decided. For example: A man is convicted of Unlawful Sexual Contact – C.R.S. 18-3-404 in Douglas County. A judge sentences him, not knowing he has psychological issues that need to be addressed. Without treatment, the man will go back to his normal habits after he has served his time. That is why a PSI is done – it is designed to discover a defendant’s underlying problems and address them so that they can be remedied by the sentence as much as possible.
Who Conducts the Presentence Investigative Report, and What Is In It?
The Probation Department and probation officers will create a report that is rich in content and facts, and is a quick read for the sentencing court. The probation department will complete a thorough interview of the defendant. Their goal is to learn about major events in the defendant’s life, such as their family background, physical and mental health issues, job status, education level, criminal background, assets, income and any other factor they believe will have bearing in court. Next, the probation officer will collect the defendant’s statement of what happened, learn how they might respond to treatment, classify the crime, obtain police reports, give the sentencing range for the offense, and make suggestions to the judge about sentencing. It is important to understand that probation officers serve at the discretion of the judges in Denver, Adams, and Arapahoe County.
What We Can Do: We Don’t Let your Offense Define Who You Are
The defense attorney is supposed to receive a copy of the PSI 72 hours prior to sentencing. This deadline is often ignored by probation, however. In a serious case, both the defense attorney and the prosecuting attorney are able to provide additional information about the defendant to the court at sentencing in Jefferson County. The prosecuting attorney (or District Attorney), will provide a Victim Impact Statement (to show how the defendant’s actions affected the victim). The defense attorney will be able to provide information such as proof of presentence treatment for substance abuse like drugs or alcohol, presentence confinement calculations, letters of recommendation from friends and family, and proof of the defendant’s accomplishments in life. We will show the court that your offense doesn’t define you – that you have a history of law abiding behavior that has benefited the community. The judge usually asks us if we have read the PSI, and if there are any errors. This is the time when we can point out inaccuracies, and fill in incomplete information with your positive accomplishments.
What You Can Do to Prepare for a Presentence Investigative Report
We have found that the probation department usually focuses on the negative sides of your life in a PSI. They usually align themselves with the prosecution (the District Attorney), and they draft the PSI with this in mind. The sentencing court usually follows the recommendations of probation, so you need to consider a few things before appearing before probation for a PSI interview:
- Be Humble: Show remorse for your actions, and cooperate with the interviewer completely.
- Victim Empathy: Think about how your offense harmed your victim, and show empathy.
- Be on Time: Don’t be late for your probation interview.
- Put your Best Foot Forward: Bring favorable documentation that you are undergoing treatment.
- Watch What You Say: Assume that everything you say will be included in the PSI.
- Don’t Exaggerate: Don’t embellish your good traits or over-exaggerate your character.
- Bring Good References: Be sure to bring a letter of reference from your work.
- Have a Job: Make sure you have a job by sentencing (this will discourage a jail sentence).