Everything you need to know about presentence investigations in Georgia

After being convicted of a federal offense in Georgia, you may be sentenced to fines, time in custody, or a term of supervised release. Before this happens, the court will perform a pre-sentence investigation to determine the severity of your penalties. You must understand how this process works and how your Georgia white-collar crimes defense attorney may be able to reduce what you pay and how long you serve.

presentence investigation

What is a pre-sentence investigation?

A pre-sentence investigation involves collecting data about your background to guide the judge’s decision for your sentencing after a conviction. After your trial, you will be assigned a probation officer to conduct the investigation. They examine information such as:

  • Details about the offense
  • Any previous arrests, acquittals, or convictions
  • Your employment and work history
  • Your family situation
  • Your finances
  • Any history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Other information relating to your case

Once the investigation is completed, all the information is compiled into a pre-sentence report, used by the judge to determine how to assign your fines and incarceration penalties. While it may seem this report could be harmful, you can rely on a skilled criminal defense attorney to make every effort to neutralize any damaging details. They will use the report to continue your defense strategy and reduce your sentence if possible.

What is a pre-sentence report?

Your pre-sentence investigation report is a six-part document that outlines the details that should be considered for your sentencing hearing. When it’s completed, you and your attorney will receive a copy for review. The government also gets a copy, and both sides can request additions, deletions, and changes before the final pre-sentence report is given to the judge.

The sections of the pre-sentence report include:

  • Part A:  This describes the details and timeline of your arrest, trial, and conviction, along with the expected sentencing date. It also includes a discussion of how the offense affected the victim, whether you accepted your responsibility for the offense and showed remorse, and what the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are for your particular case.
  • Part B: This section lists the details about any prior arrests or convictions, using a scoring system to indicate your Criminal History score.
  • Part C: This part describes your personal and family details, financial status, and any information obtained from your employer, family, and friends. These individuals will be asked to provide anything they feel the judge should know about you.
  • Part D: This area lists the current sentencing guidelines, including the range of penalties and incarceration periods, as computed by your probation officer. It shows the maximum and minimum punishment the law requires to inform the judge.
  • Parts E and F: These sections review the details of your offense and any remaining elements the judge may need to consider when deciding your sentence.

It’s important to remember that you and your criminal white-collar crimes defense lawyer can review and propose additional information to the pre-sentence report before the judge receives it. This will be crucial to making a final effort to influence the sentencing decision.

Who writes the pre-sentence investigation report?

While the probation officer officially compiles the draft of the pre-sentence investigation report, the government’s attorney and your lawyer can make suggestions to influence the final version.  Examples include statements from friends and family members about your character, a glowing review from your company, or proof of attendance in a substance abuse rehabilitation program.

You must review your report with an experienced defense attorney since it is the last chance to impact how a conviction affects your life. This is a time to include any positive details that could mitigate a harsh sentence. Ideally, your attorney will help you shape the report to show how you plan to move on from the conviction and contribute positively to society.

How is the final presentence report used for determining your sentence?

Once both sides have submitted their requested changes, there may be negotiations to finalize how the report will be updated. Corrections are included in a pre-sentence report addendum at the end of the document and sent to the judge. If there are continuing disagreements about the information in the report, the judge will hear statements about those and resolve them before pronouncing your final sentence.

Learn more about how to build a strong defense against white-collar crime allegations.

The fight to protect your rights against unfair treatment in a federal court doesn’t end when the jury trial ends. An accomplished white-collar crimes defense attorney from Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC will keep working to minimize what you must face until your final sentencing hearing ends.

If you have been arrested for offenses such as embezzlement, fraud, or cybercrimes, schedule a consultation to learn how we can build a strong defense for you by calling our Atlanta office at (404) 891-9150, our Savannah office at (912) 867-9140, or using our online form today.