Dealing with a criminal case is never fun for anyone, being the defendant being accused of a criminal offense is far less fun. No matter the verdict, innocent or guilty, you may want to avoid jail time at all costs. It is very frightening to put your future and freedom into the hands of complete strangers. While laws vary state to state, there are certain systems in place that opens the door into your life and allow you to show yourself, or the best version of yourself to the judge and jury. This is called a presentence interview. Your pre-sentence can make the difference before serious prison time, jail time, or simple fines and probation. This is the opportunity granted by the judge that allows you to convince the deciding parties that despite the charges put up against you, you are undeserving of the maximum sentence. Probation officers are usually in charge of the interview and this is where you would bring as much character building documentation that you can. This includes:
A copy of your criminal history. This is good if you are a first offender. It shows the court that you are not a habitual lawbreaker.
Your employment status and history. Being able to keep a steady and legal job may show that you are very capable of living a regular lifestyle.
Your educational background. Your lack of education does not deem you guilty, however, showing that you are an educated individual helps proves that you have a good head on your shoulders.
Character witness statements. As mentioned, these people deciding your future do not know you. Having reputable and honest people speak on your character shows that you may not be as “bad” as the offense may make you out to be.
Presentence interviews are something like your “last chance” so it is best to bring only your best to these interviews. The probation officer will also interview the victim of your offense so it is wise to give every document you have that shows your characters not who they think. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, speak with a Decatur attorney as soon as possible so that you are prepared to show your best self in your presentence interview as well.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and pre-sentencing.