Presentence Investigative Report

Presentence Investigative Report (PSI) - for Colorado Courts

Prior to sentencing in all but the most simple criminal cases, Colorado judges seek more information on a defendant. This occurs with both felony and misdemeanor convictions in Denver, Broomfield and Adams County. Judges want to know the defendant's history, so they can take that into account in fashioning a thorough and proper sentence. Imagine a case where a man stole money from work to feed his meth addiction, but the court did not know this. The judge would sentence the man as if he had an honesty or ethics problem. Soon, the man would be back stealing again in order to feed his drug habit. A Presentence Investigative Report, or PSI, is designed to catch the offender's underlying problems and address them so the basis for the crime is remedied as much as possible in the sentence.

Common Components of a Denver Presentence Investigative Report

The Probation Department / Probation Officers will first complete a thorough interview of the defendant. The goal is to learn major events in a defendant's life such as family background, mental health issues, criminal background, job status, educational level, income, assets and other factors. Next, the probation officer will seek further information on the defendant's statement of what happened, try and learn the defendant's amenability to treatment, obtain police reports, classify the crime, give the sentencing range for the offense, and make recommendations for a sentence to the judge. Probation officers serve at the discretion of the judges in Arapahoe, Jefferson and Douglas County. The report is designed to be rich in content and a quick read for the sentencing court. The defendant's lawyer is supposed to receive a copy of the report 72 hours prior to sentencing, although this deadline is frequently ignored by probation.

Input from the Prosecution and Defense Attorney

In serious matters, the defense and prosecution may provide the court with additional information at sentencing. The prosecuting attorney, or District Attorney, will provide a Victim Impact Statement, while the defense can provide things like character reference letters, proof of presentence treatment for substance abuse like alcohol or drugs, presentence confinement calculations, and proof of the defendant's life accomplishments. We never want the court to think that the offense alone defines who our client is. Our clients have a rich history of law abiding and community enriching behavior apart from the isolated criminal conduct, and this should be highlighted for the judge.

The Probation Department Has a Bias

We find that probation officers tend to summarize findings in a negative manner for our client. Probation frequently aligns itself with the District Attorney and they don't forget this when drafting a PSI. The judge will always ask the defense if they have read the PSI, and whether there are any errors in the report. We can list out any errors or inaccurate or incomplete information. Courts tend to follow the recommendations of probation, so it is important for anyone appearing before probation for a PSI / PSIR interview to do the following:

  • Be humble, remorseful, and cooperative with the interviewer
  • Think how your offense harmed your victim (express victim empathy)
  • Always arrive on time for your probation interview
  • Bring favorable documentation of treatment
  • Assume that any words said or written will be included in the Presentence Investigative Report
  • Don't talk excessively
  • Don't exaggerate or embellish your good traits
  • Bring a letter of reference from your work
  • Always have a job at sentencing (this discourages a jail sentence)

It is difficult to overcome a negative PSI, so be prepared. Our lawyers talk with our clients in preparation for the presentence interview. It is a very important part of any criminal case, since your freedom is on the line. For more information on the Presentence Investigative Report, PSI or PSIR, call our attorneys at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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