THE SENTENCING REPORT
The Client Oriented Pre-sentence Study is intended to fully explore, in great detail, the history, growth and development of the client, even pre-natal through childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
The report is organized as follows and is based upon interviews with the client, immediate family, extended family, colleagues, friends and any others who may have intimate or other cogent knowledge of the person-at least so far as they may have had an opportunity to observe and make judgments-as to personality traits, characteristics, habits and any other indicators of behavior; reliability, temperament, substance use or abuse, physical and emotional status, among other relevant information or experiences with the client. It is fundamental to the efficacy and credibility of the report that all respondents be admonished to relate with absolute honesty-removing any doubt by advising same is clearly in the best interests of the client no matter their opinion or judgment.
Likewise, the professional credibility of the report and it’s recommendations derive from a balanced assessment which demands inquiry into and/or review of the specific allegations, charges, indictment, pleas of guilt, conviction, prior criminal or anti-social activity, role/level of involvement of the client in the instant offense(s), impact on the victim(s) and/or the community and victim impact statements, given their availability via the prosecutor or probation officer conducting the state’s pre-sentence investigation. Contact routinely may be made with the prosecutor in exploring the above, albeit that is the province of defense counsel and nothing we do should approach their own role in discussion of the case, plea or other such consideration of legal matters related to the case.
Irrespective of the defendant’s stated involvement in the offense, while still a consideration in assessing the individual to some degree, should there have been a plea to certain offenses or counts in an indictment or a conviction for same, we must treat the matter as fact-they have admitted to or been found guilty- having committed the criminal offense. Serious consideration of the fact of guilt is significant to the ends of the report although in the context of the other information developed toward an assessment of potential, recidivism and threat to the community leading to our recommendations at sentencing.
The development of the report and recommendations requires:
· Documents review and analysis-charging papers, psychiatric/medical and other reports, certifications, awards, school records, employment records, letters of reference or achievement and other such related to the client.
· Interviews with client (several), family, references, colleagues, employers, counselors, coaches, ministers, neighbors, etc.
· Analysis of applicable state of federal guidelines, statutes, probation report.
· Analysis, assessment of client regarding criminality, remorse, support system and potential for citizenship toward rational punitive/rehabilitative sanctions.
Body of The Report
· Face Sheet- A front page indicating Offender’s name, Case # , Court, by whom the report was prepared and the name and address of Defense Counsel.
· HISTORY IN BRIEF-Usually prepared after the full body of report. A short description of the client’s history in all aspects, up to date, including current offense and status of client.
· PERSONAL/FAMILY HISTORY-Summary statement followed by detailed description of immediate family members; where born, raised, education, employment, substance abuse, arrests/convictions, marital status, community activity, church, military, relative closeness of the family, strength, problems, divorce, other relevant information. Also extended family on both maternal and fraternal sides in most of the above respects. Included in this section is the client’s marital status, children and their age, status. NOTE: Here and in all subsequent sections of the report, specific dates for certain events are important, i.e., births graduation, marriage, employment, prior delinquency or criminal charges, hospitalizations, military service, etc.
· EDUCATION- Complete accounting of schools attended, pre-school on, behavior, grades, special education or handicapping conditions-testing, medications (names of those testing/copies of results). Include any and all post graduate studies, training, skills development, with dates and places of study-to include names of instructors, counselors, coaches, etc., who may be contacted for reference purposes. Details of school activities, clubs, classes, athletics. Copies of certificates or documentation of performance-report cards.
· EMPLOYMENT-Chronology of work beginning with paper route, lawn work, baby-sitting, summer jobs, part-time employment, full time employment-places, duties, salary, supervisor, how got job, why terminated, on the job training, promotions, career interests, leadership or supervisory positions, job associated references, employment highlights and any employment related documentation-awards, etc.
· MILITARY SERVICE-Branch of Service, dates of enlistment or draft and tours of duty, rank, promotions, training, citations, overseas assignments, theaters of combat, related disabilities, wounds, medals, honors, courts martial, discharge papers.
· HEALTH/DRUGS/ALCOHOL- Physical, medical or emotional developmental history (birth weight, trauma) and current status ; doctors, counselors, therapists, medications, disabilities, diseases, diagnosis’, head injuries, broken bones, accidents, etc. Use, extent and abuse of alcohol, drugs-specify first use and type and frequency-treatment history, residential, A.A., N.A. out-patient clinic, current use, history of black-outs, bad “trips”, urine screens, testing. Names, places, dates of treatment and counselors. Any medications.
· ACTIVITIES-Favorite activities during childhood, adolescence, adulthood, level of participation, organized clubs, scouts, athletics, drama, civic and social organizations, offices held in same or professional life, etc.-certificates, awards, names of adult co-participants, coaches, others as references.
· REFERENCES: FRIENDS / ASSOCIATES This is a compendium of interviews with a number of persons who have had relevant contact with the client in some measure at any point in their lives. The respondent is identified and requested to provide pertinent information about themselves as one who can relate their experience with the client, observations and judgment of character, personality traits, temperament, strengths and weaknesses. Each reflects the time, nature, type and frequency of contact and relationship over a given period of time. Some of these and others may write letters of reference for the client, the information contained therein, somewhat a mirror of the above in their own words. We provide guidelines for letters of reference.
· PRIOR DELINQUENT/ CRIMINAL HISTORY-A detailed chronological statement of prior arrests, pleas, convictions and correctional experience if any. With some brief explanation of the nature of the offense and the clients involvement in each. Documents if available, including traffic offenses, DWI/DUI, prior pre-sentence reports, records of incarceration. Limited access to same may require contact with the probation department if conducting a pre-sentence report with a signed release by the client.
· CURRENT OFFENSE-Description of charges, conviction of or plea to specific counts with some reference to the client’s participation, admission, acceptance of responsibility and cooperation (federal cases in particular), Usually a brief section inasmuch as at trial and at sentencing it has been laid out in detail, the client’s level of participation in the offense including any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
· OFFENDER’S STATEMENT-The offender’s statement regarding the offense, their role, intent, responsibility and other remarks related to the offense and victim(s).
· ASSESSMENT/MITIGATING FACTORS- A separate page of short, on-point statements regarding assessment of the offender with regard to criminality, accountability, prior history, family, support system, potential for recidivism and impact of punitive sanctions. Pertinent rational for the following section.
· RECOMMENDED SENTENCE-A one page statement containing the rational and basis for the recommended sentence with specific sanctions; incarceration, home detention, intensive or routine probation, community service, restitution, residential or clinic treatment, and/or other special conditions considerate of the nature of the offense, the interests of public safety, accountability, deterrence and offender rehabilitation.
ATTACHMENTS: A separate section containing letters and documents attesting to the history of the offender as referred to in the body of the report.
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