How Do I Write a Pre-Sentencing Investigation Report?

Written by george lawrence
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How Do I Write a Pre-Sentencing Investigation Report?
A pre-sentencing report helps the judge formulate an appropriate sentence for criminal defendants. (financial report image by Christopher Hall from

Probation officers plan and supervise criminal offenders placed on probation. In addition, probation officers make recommendations as to whether someone should be on probation. Before a person is put on probation, the judge reviews a pre-sentencing investigation report written by a probation officer. The report contains essential information about the defendant's background including medical, school and past criminal history.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Interview the defendant to gather all the necessary facts. During the interview, ask the defendant to provide you with information about his history. To guide the interview, use a pre-sentence report guide such as the one provided by the US District Court (see the link in the resource section).

  2. 2

    Investigate the facts provided by the defendant to verify the information. Check with employers, family members, and other authorities to ensure that the information gleaned from the interview is correct. Make changes as appropriate.

  3. 3

    Organise the report using topics and subtopics. Use four main topics: background; facts and circumstances of the underlying offence; an assessment describing a plan to rehabilitate the defendant, and a sentencing recommendation. Break this areas into subtopics (such as medical history under background and evaluation and plan under the assessment topic).

  4. 4

    Fill in the report with the information from the initial interview and the investigation. Once the report is organised, fill in the required information.

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