The Pre-Sentencing Interview: What to Expect

If you have been found guilty of violating crimes in California, you will undergo a presentence interview before you ever get to the sentencing phase of the process. This is basically an investigative interview with a probation officer who will be tasked with making recommendations related to your sentencing, so making a good impression is probably a good idea. The report will be confidential, with only your counsel and the prosecutor receiving a copy. 

Topics of the Interview

The interview will cover a broad set of topics and might also include: 

  • Family background;
  • Previous education;
  • Ties you may have to the community;
  • Employment history;
  • Criminal history;
  • Associations with known criminals;
  • Financial stability;
  • Addiction issues;
  • Physical health issues;
  • Attitude accepting or declining responsibility for current offense(s);
  • Mental health concerns.

Records of Interest

Your interviewer will likely review documentation related to your personal history, including things like:

  • School transcripts;
  • Providers of substance abuse and/or counseling treatment;
  • Records related to employment;
  • Records related to financial status;
  • Records related to military service;
  • Records of previous criminal activity;
  • Documentation of physical and/or mental health issues;
  • Documents related to your trial, including transcripts, pleas, and other reports.

Further Investigation

The probation officer will continue to look for information about you by interviewing others who may have relevant data, including individuals from law enforcement, the prosecutor involved in your case, your employer, family, and friends. A home visit will be scheduled if possible, during which your living conditions will be assessed.

Can I Refuse to Answer Questions?

While you absolutely have the right to decline to answer some questions, it could result in the probation officer simply seeking the requested information from another source. If your attorney has advised against sharing certain information, or if you just resolve not to answer of your own volition, you can count on that being reported to the court with a notation stating the reason for your lack of cooperation. There is always the possibility that refusing to cooperate could have a negative impact on the sentencing recommendation.

After the Interview

Once the report is written, it will be given to both the prosecutor and defense attorney, either of whom may object to anything contained in the document. The recommended sentencing guidelines that are based on the information in the report may be challenged, as well. Those objections, along with the probation officer’s responses, will then be included in an addendum to the report, which is what the judge will receive (as well as both attorneys). 

If the judge sentences you to prison, the report will follow you to the Bureau of Prisons, but it remains confidential and cannot be shared outside this tiny circle.

Advocating for You

The aggressive and thorough criminal defense attorneys at Boertje & Associates in San Diego always fight for the best possible outcomes for you. That includes preparing you for the pre sentencing interview. To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation with us today.

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