January 2, 2015

Why Should You Prepare For Your Presentence Investigation?

Happy New Year!

A few hours into the New Year I received a call from a gentlemen expressing his regrets. Apparently, the probation officer that wrote his pre sentence investigation did not adequately represent who he is, what he has done throughout his life and so on. Even more tragic the report said he lacked remorse and contrition. What do we call that type of news in my world? Yes, tragic is a good word.

Through my call I learned this was a really proud man, a father, and husband. Opening up about what happened was like ripping a bandaid off a wound (too cliche?). But failing to open up properly and speak to how his behavior impacted others, impacted him in the eyes of those that will judge him. As a reminder, I know some of those reading this blog are not convinced of their guilt. I believe others are truly not guilty and at worse charges should have only been brought civilly. Many took or will take a deal because the ramifications at trial could be disastrous. I get it. But if you plead, you must go all in and you should be prepared. I have a client about to sit for his interview; we have been preparing for more than four months. He is ready. To succeed, one must sell a strategy that says you get it. Let’s not forget you did sign a plea deal. Rather than get righteous and encourage you to accept responsibility because it might be the right thing to do, I would rather you understand that accepting responsibility could simply be a means to a better end: a shorter prison term in a better institution.

The question Are You Prepared? on a background of question marks

Regardless of your motives or the anger you might feel in having the government rip apart your family, there are some strategies you should pursue to succeed through the pre sentence investigation. For that reason, if the pre sentence investigation is in your future, I would begin preparing. If you prepare, I know, you will achieve results that will positively impact you and your family for years to come. But you will have to do some work. I put a significant amount of energy and time into creating these programs. I ask my clients to match that energy. I cannot totally deliver if you do not meet me halfway.

To help you understand the relevance of the pre sentence investigation, I provide an overview of my lesson plan.


Federal Prison Advice’s lesson on the Presentence Investigation (PSI) Report is essential for anyone who has been charged with a federal crime. Whether an individual has been charged with a white-collar crime, drug crime, or any other type of felony, the Presentence Investigation Report will have enormous implications if there is a finding of guilt. The judge may rely upon the Presentence Investigation Report during sentencing. Besides the judge, however, administrators within the Bureau of Prisons and the federal probation officer who oversees Supervised Release will rely upon the Presentence Investigation Report when classifying the offender.


Experience has taught us that defendants who encounter the criminal justice system for the first time rarely invest the time and resources necessary to understand the relevance of the Presentence Investigation Report. Essentially, after a finding of guilt, a federal judge will order an officer from federal probation to initiate a Presentence Investigation. The probation officer will conduct some preliminary background work to learn what the United States Attorney had to say about the case. The probation officer may also interview law enforcement officers who were involved in the case and the probation officer will want to hear what victims had to say as well.

Within a few days or weeks of the conviction, the probation officer will meet with the defendant. That meeting between the defendant and the probation officer is of monumental importance. The probation officer will listen to what the defendant has to say and take detailed notes. If the defendant fails to appreciate the importance of the Presentence Investigation Report, he may make comments that result in his serving more time in prison than necessary. He also may find that his Presentence Investigation Report results in his serving his sentence in a Bureau of Prisons facility that has more restrictions than would otherwise be warranted in his case.

Since the Presentence Investigation Report has such enormous implications on a defendant’s case, at Federal Prison Advice we strongly recommend this lesson as a starting point for all of our clients.

Investigation Results words stamped on a yellow envelope contain

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