If you are in criminal court and have been convicted of a crime, this is going to be the most important interview of the entire process. For some people, this might be the most important interview of their life. It is the presentence investigation interview.
Generally, cases will start with charges, which normally a person will plead not guilty to. If this person is convicted of a level five felony or higher, either through going to trial or taking an agreement, the State of Indiana requires what is called a presentence investigation report. This presentence investigation report will be given to the judge prior to sentencing.
The investigation is fairly simple. Someone from the probation department will sit down with you and ask various questions. Based on your answers, they will lay out your background. The person who is performing the investigation will then contact various institutions, such as schools you attended, treatment programs you were enrolled in, and so on. At completion, this report is meant to be a snapshot of your life.
The reason why I stress the importance of this interview is because this report holds a lot of weight on the judge and courts. While you will be able to have family members at the sentencing hearing, and they can give character letters for the judge to consider, the report is still going to be the most substantial resource the court has. A part of this reliance is due to the unbiased nature of the report. Probation’s job is to be unbiased and to produce an objective report of the kind of person you are. It should convey the challenges you have faced in your life and the various events in your life that have shaped you and may have played a part in whatever crime you have been convicted of. It is very important that you are honest and forthcoming in this interview, and that you really participate in a way that will allow the probation department to get a genuine sense of who you are as a person.
It is worth mentioning that it is certainly within your rights to have your criminal defense attorney present for this interview as well.
My advice to you is, if you must do it then take it seriously, put your best foot forward, and give it a sincere effort. You never know if this report will be the difference between you serving the sentence in the community or going to prison. It might be the difference between getting the services you need such as counseling and therapy, versus not. I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions about this process or presentence investigations, please give me a call or send me an email. I am always more than happy to help in any way possible.
Until next time, please remember- if you have to be guilty of anything, be guilty of greatness.