What is a Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”)?

A Presentence Investigation Report, often abbreviated as “PSR” or “PSI”, is a document created by the United States Probation Office after an individual has been convicted of a felony in federal court. The PSR documents the convicted individual’s life history and background and is provided to the Court to assist in determining a fair sentence.

After a defendant pleads guilty (or is found guilty by a jury or judge), the judge will order the probation officer to create the PSR. The assigned probation officer will conduct a PSR interview with the defendant as well as an independent investigation into the offense to gather information.

Once the initial PSR is complete, the report is sent to your attorney, the Government’s attorney, and the Court. Once disclosed, your attorney is required to review the report with you. If you see any information that is incorrect, or if you disagree with how the guidelines are computed, your attorney can file objections to the PSR. The final PSR will make any corrections and note any objections in the PSR Addendum. If there are still any unresolved objections by the day you are sentenced, the Judge will resolve any disagreements before pronouncing your final sentence.

A PSR has six major parts:

  • Part A shows everything that has happened in your case so far, from your arrest to when you are scheduled to be sentenced; discusses what happened during the offense(s) of conviction; the impact of the offense on the victim(s); your acceptance of responsibility for the offense; and how the Federal Sentencing Guidelines apply to the facts of your case.
  • Part B lists and describes any arrests and convictions you have had before now, and scores them to obtain your Criminal History score.
  • Part C is all about you. This section discusses your personal background and family information, your financial status, and any information you or your family, friends, or employers want the judge to know about you.
  • Part D lays out the guideline range computed by the probation officer and the minimum and maximum punishments required by the law. It is important to remember the probation officer does not decide your sentence. Only the judge can decide your sentence and resolve any disagreements about your case.
  • Parts E and F discuss identified offense or personal history factors the judge may use to give you a lower or higher sentence than the guideline range stated in Part D of the PSR.
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