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What Is a Presentence Report?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Raleigh criminal defense lawyerIn some cases, a criminal cases, conviction is unavoidable no matter how good your attorney is. Pleading guilty is sometimes the best move, and trials are always a risk because juries can be wildly unpredictable. After you are convicted or plead guilty, your case moves into what is called the sentencing phase. During this time period, the court will consider a large amount of information to determine what the appropriate sentence might be.  

In some felony or high-level misdemeanor cases, the judge may order a probation officer to conduct what is called a presentence investigation. A lawyer can help you during this period by emphasizing the good facts and circumstances that might lead to a lighter sentence and contextualizing or explaining any issues that could lead to a harsher sentence. Preparing for this phase requires strong criminal defense skills. 

What Information Does a Presentence Investigation Cover?

The goal of a presentence investigation is to put your offense into context so that the court has all the information it needs to determine an appropriate sentence. When these investigations are ordered, they can be extremely important. A good presentence report can mean the difference between prison and probation for some people. Information about you that may be gathered during a presentence investigation includes your: 

  • Criminal history - If you already have a criminal record, that could weigh against you. However, other factors like how long ago your last offense was and whether it is related to the current one are important. For example, if you are currently being sentenced for a burglary, a DUI that happened 15 years ago will be less relevant than a felony theft conviction from last year. 
  • Treatment - If your offense was influenced by a substance abuse disorder or a mental illness, the court will want to see that you are taking steps to address it. Those who make strong efforts to address their mental health or addiction problems are less likely to re-offend or endanger the public, so the court may believe that incarceration is not necessary. Those who refuse to acknowledge the problem and seek treatment may be viewed disfavorably. 
  • Social background - This catch-all category covers a lot of your personal history. It may include things like the type of situation you were raised in, your education, your work history, and volunteerism. 
  • Circumstances - If there are any unusual, extenuating, or otherwise relevant circumstances surrounding your offense or your motivation for committing it, it will be an important part of this investigation. Context can be very important. 

Even if you are positive that you will be convicted, there are still many steps that an attorney can take to protect you. 

Contact a Johnston County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC is committed to serving the best interests of our clients for the duration of their criminal cases. Our Charlotte criminal defense attorneys are skilled at combating overly harsh sentencing. Call 919-533-7000 for a free consultation. 

 

Source:

https://www.nccourts.gov/assets/documents/forms/cr232-en.pdf?qw9RZLnXrGWBR.aNNT3aGoo.NQGduoGx

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