Before convicted defendants are sentenced by the Judge, court personnel conduct presentence investigations. The presentence investigation report is intended to assist the Judge in weighing the all relevant circumstances prior to sentencing the defendant.
The reports provide an assessment of a defendant’s overall family, medical and criminal background. The report will also include statements received from victims and their families. Assessments of drug use and recommendations concerning probation supervision and treatment are also provided. Financial conditions of defendants are also considered, since most sentences involve a fine, penalty, restitution or reimbursement to a victim.
An evaluation of a defendant’s suitability for probation is also set forth. Generally, reports either recommend prison or probation. Of course, Judges are not bound by these recommendations, but the reports are nevertheless critically important in the criminal sentencing process.