What is a Presentence Report?

By order of the Court, a probation officer makes a thorough investigation—a presentence investigation—into the circumstances of the offense and the offender's criminal background and personal characteristics. The officer gathers information two ways: by conducting interviews and by reviewing documents. The cornerstone of the investigation is the interview with the defendant, during which the officer inquires about such things as the defendant's family, education, employment, finances, physical and mental health, and alcohol/substance abuse. The officer may also conduct a home visit to assess the offender's living conditions, family relationships, and community ties.

The officer also interviews other persons who can provide pertinent information about the defendant (i.e. spouse, child, parent, employer) and the offense (victim, prosecutor, investigating agent, coconspirators).

The presentence report is a critical part of the sentencing process. It must be accurate and distinguish between information that is verified and unverified and between fact and opinion. The presentence report not only helps the Court choose an appropriate sentence, but provides important information to help the Bureau of Prisons choose an institution where the offender will serve the sentence, select prison programs that will help with the offender and make release plans. It also provides the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) with information useful for monitoring sentencing guidelines application and research. The presentence report also helps the probation officer supervising the offender assess the risk the offender poses and assess the needs of the offender.

The probation officer writing the presentence report makes sentencing recommendations (the amount of a fine/restitution, if any, the amount of time an offender will serve on probation, in prison, or on supervised release.)  The writer also recommends conditions under which offenders are released to the community.  Ultimately, the Court will decide the actual sentence.

Updated on Feb 26, 2014

How do I know who is writing my report?

You may call the U.S. Probation Office located within the courthouse in which you pled, or were convicted at trial, and ask which probation officer was assigned to your case. The Probation Office numbers are:

  • Boise (208) 334-1630
  • Coeur d’Alene (208) 665-6880
  • Pocatello (208) 478-4150
Updated on Feb 26, 2014

How long does the presentence investigation take?

The sentencing timelines for the District of Idaho are found in Idaho Criminal Rule 32.1.  Per Rule 32.1, sentencing should occur no less than 70 days following guilty/nolo contendere plea or guilty verdict. The initial presentence investigation report will be disclosed to the government and defense counsel at least 35 days before the date of sentencing.  The parties have up to 14 days to review the report.  Any objections must be filed with the the Court during that time.  Seven days prior to sentencing, a final Presentence Report and Addendum to the Presentence Report will be filed with the Court and available for the sentencing judge and counsel.

Updated on Feb 26, 2014

How do I obtain a copy of my presentence report?

Presentence reports are confidential documents and will only be released to your attorney (who will share it with you) the prosecutor, the Court, and the Bureau of Prisons (if you are sentenced to imprisonment.)  Absent a court order, no other party is entitled to a copy.

Updated on Feb 26, 2014

What is Parole, Probation and Supervised Release?
  • Probation is a term of community supervision imposed by the Court in lieu of a prison sentence.
  • Parole is a period of community supervision imposed by the U.S. Parole Commission to be completed after release from a prison term.  The U.S. Parole Commission’s jurisdiction is limited to offenders who committed offenses prior to November 1, 1987, and certain Washington D.C. offenders.
  • Supervised Release is a period of community supervision imposed by the Court to be completed after release from jail or prison sentence.
Updated on Feb 26, 2014

What should I bring to my presentence interview?
  • Birth certificates, school diplomas/GED/college degrees.
  • Pay stubs, military records.
  • Marriage certificate/divorce decrees immigration/naturalization documents.
  • Professional licenses/permits, driver’s license.
  • Income taxes for the last 3 years social services records (i.e., food stamps, disability, etc.)
Updated on Feb 26, 2014

What happens after I am sentenced?

You can be sentenced to a fine, probation or imprisonment.  If you are sentenced to probation, you should report to the U.S. Probation Office immediately following sentencing.  Supervision is based on your residence.  If you do not live within the District of Idaho, your supervision will be transferred to the district where you reside.

If you are sentenced to imprisonment, and you are not directly committed to the custody of Bureau of Prisons from Court, the Judge may allow you to self-surrender to an institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons or to the U.S. Marshal Service. When this happens, you remain subject to the originally imposed bail conditions.

Updated on Feb 26, 2014

Do I get taken into custody at sentencing?

Some defendants are permitted to voluntarily surrender themselves. This means that after sentencing, you are permitted to return home.  Within approximately three to six weeks, you will receive a letter from the U.S. Probation Office advising you of which federal prison to report to, and on what date.  If voluntary surrender is granted, you are responsible for transportation to the designated prison, which may be a significant distance from your home.

Updated on Jul 17, 2018

How is my place of imprisonment determined?

The Bureau of Prisons is solely responsible for selecting the institution for service of your sentence.  It considers, among other things, any recommendations from the sentencing judge, your medical health, mental health, substance abuse issues, the geographic area of your residence, security issues, and the population of individual institutions.  The U.S. Probation Office has no input in the decision-making process and is unable to change a designation.  Neither the Bureau of Prisons nor the U.S. Marshal Service is authorized to release information regarding designations to the public (i.e., offenders, defense counsel, etc.)

Once you have been designated to a facility, you should call the institution directly for information and directions.  Further information is available at the Bureau of Prisons website

Updated on Feb 26, 2014

What items can I bring with me to prison?

For security, safety, and sanitation reasons, the Bureau of Prisons limits the amount of property (jewelry, photographs, books, magazines, etc.) inmates may have, and the types of publications inmates can receive.  The institution issues clothing, hygiene items, and bedding, and provides laundry services.  Inmates may purchase other personal care items, shoes, some recreational clothing, and some food items through the commissary.  Civilian clothing (i.e., clothing not issued to the inmate by the Bureau or purchased by the inmate from the commissary) ordinarily is not authorized for retention by the inmate.  Further information is available at the Bureau of Prisons' website

Updated on Feb 26, 2014