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Pre-Sentence Reports

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 9 Oct 2017 |
 
Pre-sentence Report Probation Sentence

If you’ve pleaded guilty to a criminal offence, the judge or your defence lawyer may request a pre-sentence report. This is essentially an impartial report that gives the sentencing judge (or magistrates) an idea of your background and the most suitable punishment for the offence that you have committed. It is written with the seriousness of the offence in mind, as well as your suitability to carry out particular types of sentences (e.g. types of community sentences.)

The Interview

If a pre-sentence report is ordered in your case, you will have an interview with a probation officer who then writes the report on you. For obvious reasons it is important to cooperate with the preparation of the report as otherwise this can have a negative impact on the sentence you are given. Some courts actually make it a condition of post-conviction bail that you cooperate with the probation service in ensuring that the report is written. If you do not turn up to the appointment, you can sometimes rearrange if there are extenuating circumstances, while in other cases you may have to be sentenced without the report.

What Is A Pre-Sentence Report For?

A pre-sentence report is intended to give the sentencing court some understanding as to why you committed the offence, how you feel about it now, and what your background, family and work circumstances are. Using this information, the court will decide the most appropriate sentence to give you. It is important to note that the court does not have to go along with the recommendation in the report, and the probation officer’s opinion is not binding on the type of sentence you get. This means, for example, that if you have committed a serious offence and the report recommends a lot of community punishment, you could still be sent to prison.

In practice, however, if you are sentenced in the magistrates’ court the bench will nearly always go along with the recommendation in the report. It is quite common, though, for judges in the crown court to take absolutely no notice of the pre-sentence report and to pass a completely different sentence instead. In some cases, this may be a totally different type of sentence. For example, a pre-sentence report that recommends a Community Punishment Order of 240 hours may be ignored by a judge who imposes a six month period of imprisonment suspended for two years.

Who Sees The Report?

The people who see the report are: you, your solicitor, your barrister (if you have one), the prosecution, the judge or magistrates, the court clerk and probation officers. You will be allowed an opportunity to read through your report before the sentencing hearing. If there is anything within the report that you disagree with you should let your lawyer know before you get into court so that the issue can be raised. The report will not be read out in court, but the prosecution, defence or judge can make reference to it or ask questions about it.

What If Prison Is Unavoidable?

In some cases, a pre-sentence report can be asked for even if a lengthy sentence of imprisonment is inevitable. This is because the report could affect the length of, or later management of, the sentence. It could also help to explain, for example, the fact that there has been a long period of time between previous convictions and the current offence.

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My friend was on probation he is a recovering alcholic he was due in court about steeling bikes which happened in jan. He handed himself in in august and had court in sept but didnt turn up as scared and went drinking. He got picked up by police that night as he killed a segul by throwing a bottle. He had not drank for 6 weeks up to then. He is on bail waiting sentancing in magistrates court his suspended sentance had been extended 2 times. His probation officer wabts him to be suspended again as he is not drinkinh and he is working full time as chef again and doing a drink recovery program and anger management. What are the chances of commmunity sentance or is he going to have to do 2 years? He is prepared to do prison as he has found faith since this and is now heavily involved with a church.
Puck - 9-Oct-17 @ 7:41 PM
I have pleaded guilty to facilitation and the judge did not ask for pre sentencing report. I have no previous conviction and never been arrested. the facilitation was not for commercial gain it was actually my wife who was facing prosecution back home. my lawyer is not very helpful and I really don't know what to do and how to seek guidance. Is there away from going back to court and ask for pre- sentencing report before the sentencing date.
Alex - 11-Aug-17 @ 9:31 PM
Is it the same because it's crown court? His guidelines were 18 months max or minimum suspended sentence. With time off for pleading guilty early. I've wrote a letter and he has and also got character references. Is there anything else you can take that makes things look better for him. He's changed his life around since then we found out we was having a baby 5 months ago, just moved home & he's started his own business. Will they take that into account??
Grinch123 - 9-Aug-17 @ 2:17 AM
@Grinch123 - usually probation and the judge are pretty much in line with each other. But every judge is different too with diferent opinions!
PBude - 8-Aug-17 @ 3:45 PM
My boyfriend was arrested in November for intent to supply. He was released without charge pending enquiries. They later charged him and he pleaded guilty for intent to supply 2.5 grams of cocaine. The court Probabtion officer have applied for suspended sentence and community work. As I'm now pregnant, we've moved home and he's started his own business. Do the court always go by the Probabtion officers ?
Grinch123 - 8-Aug-17 @ 12:50 PM
@D - the judge usually goes with the pre-sentence report (but not always). The report gives an indiction of the punishment being considered. It's used as a general guideline. You'll find the judge is unlikely to deviate far from it.
JRT77 - 31-May-17 @ 11:54 AM
My boyfriend has been remanded for attempted robbery on his trail it was said that there was no evidence against him at all he also had is pre sentence report and it was said that this prionser should not be sentenced . What do you think will happen at his court date
D - 30-May-17 @ 5:06 PM
My partner has been remanded awaiting sentencing for possession of a bladed article he rang the police on himself as he is severely depressed and has a gambling problem and owes a fair amount of money they are awaiting a pre sentence report from probation. He has been out of trouble for four years and we have a lovely baby girl he also took on my other three children and are due to marry next year. I'm hoping he gets a suspended sentence doe anyone have any idea if they will take that information as that he was just in a bad way and needed help?
Zozzle - 8-May-17 @ 12:33 PM
Emr91 - Your Question:
My partner has been remanded for intent to supply class a drugs. He is plannig yo ask for a bargin plee of possessiom not intent as was only 7 grams. He has previously been to jail for a class drug chargesI have twins and am pregnant with our first child I am under social services and he is my main support network ineednto nowhat to expect

Our Response:
Sentencing for any supply case is complicated and will depend on the quantity of drugs involved and the role of the offender - for example, social supply as opposed to supply for financial gain. The Sentencing Guidelines for Drug Offences outlines the range of sentences available for supply cases via the Release link here. It also has a helpline you can call.
CourtroomAdvice - 15-Feb-17 @ 10:43 AM
My partner has been remanded for intent to supply class a drugs. He is plannig yo ask for a bargin plee of possessiom not intent as was only 7 grams. He has previously been to jail for a class drug charges I have twins and am pregnant with our first child i am under social services and he is my main support network ineednto nowhat to expect
Emr91 - 14-Feb-17 @ 5:01 AM
Jakey - Your Question:
Hi im in court on thursday for supplying cannibas for a 3 year period I have no previous convictions and fully admit my guilt I have been told to pack a bag and expect a prison sentence despite my honesty im due to have a presentence report interview before I go into court Like I say I fully admit my guilt and have done alot to change my life since the offense I now have a job and a newborn child aswell as given up selling and smoking cannibas could a presentence report actually help me?

Our Response:
You would have to seek advice from your solicitor regarding this, as we are unable to give direct advice.
CourtroomAdvice - 7-Feb-17 @ 12:31 PM
Hi im in court on thursday for supplying cannibas for a 3 year period i have no previous convictions and fully admit my guilt i have been told to pack a bag and expect a prison sentence despite my honesty im due to have a presentence report interview before i go into court Like i say i fully admit my guilt and have done alot to change my life since the offense i now have a job and a newborn child aswell as given up selling and smoking cannibas could a presentence report actually help me?
Jakey - 6-Feb-17 @ 7:09 PM
If someone lies in their interview with a probation officer for their pre sentence probation report for sentencing how can you find out and if they did lie and the lying helps them get off with a lighter sentence can the person prosecuting appeal the case based on the fact the defendant lied in their pre sentence report (based in the U.K.) ps I know the prosecution can see the report so can the judge but it's just words not based on facts but if you know the fact and find out they did lie can you pass the correct information on so they can re prosecute
Bennjy - 7-Jan-17 @ 9:10 PM
Will pre sentence reports show any arrests which had no further action?
K - 5-Jan-17 @ 9:32 PM
Please make sure if you attend a probation interview for a pre-sentence report you have a witness present. My PSR had a blatant lie in its first paragraph and was intended to up the sentencing. How I wish I had taken one in with me so if you are refused please stick to your gun and refuse to cooperate without one. Contact Sonia Crozier at ministry of Justice if the PO threatens court action. If anyone needs to contact me re advice pls look for Fair Justice with Mental Health. Together we can fight this evil corruption!
Kazza - 18-Nov-16 @ 8:58 AM
he i was charged with counts of common assult it was minor but im not in the wrong but the people i supposed to of hit are both witness aswell i have one previous of common assult 2 and a half to 3 years ago if found gulity will i go to jail i only have one other previous on my record for drink driving i also have deppression and anxiety have been suicidle 3 times this year as i have mental helath problems can you help in anyway
anthony - 2-Nov-16 @ 7:46 PM
I'm at crown court and the judge has order no pre sentance reports dose that mean I'm going to jail
Jimmy - 24-Oct-16 @ 10:40 AM
Hello my boyfriend is on a two year licence and has been found guilty in court for a common assault which may I add he never did ! He's back there tomorrow based on a probation report .. Is he going to get jail or will he be given some slack due to him behaving well since coming out of jail working and keeping his head down complying with probation at all times .
Kirkywirky - 18-Oct-16 @ 8:00 PM
My boyfriend is on remand as his ex girlfriend as made accusations against him sayin he's hit her with my car. When he didn't she's obsessed with him there is no evidence just a graze on her leg and one witness witch is a close friend of hers who doesn't like my partner. He's in court for pre sentenceing tomorrow what will happen ?
Melvin - 10-Oct-16 @ 5:06 PM
My EX husband is up on a murder charge , he can rot for all i care but my problem here is i have a teenage son with him .. will the press pester me because of this , weve been split up 7 years
Pink - 9-Oct-16 @ 6:12 PM
hi my partner got charged with assaulting 2 police officers and racism he got 3 weeks in total they took a week off for pleading guilty and the 2 weeks hes done on remand, so he only has to finish his licence off which ends in december magistrates never said nothing about probation, my partner rang me yesterday from prison and said probation pulled him and told him he cant live with me because off domestic violence, there hasnt been any domestic violence or any charges pressed, but if he finishes his licence how can these tell him where to live when he gets out its totally wrong and i am not happy about this 1 bit and neither is he.
jo - 5-Oct-16 @ 7:59 AM
mackerel- Your Question:
I've to. Appear at court on. Tuesday to see how. My behaviour has been but last week I got charged with assault and breach of the peace I. Got court bail what will happen on Tuesday

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot predict this, your solicitor or legal representative will be able to give you more information regarding what you can expect.
CourtroomAdvice - 12-Sep-16 @ 1:41 PM
I've to. Appear at court on. Tuesday to see how. My behaviour has been but last week I got charged with assault and breach of the peace I. Got court bail what will happen on Tuesday
mackerel - 11-Sep-16 @ 10:38 PM
I was charged with assault by beating on my ex fiancé after and argument escalated and neighbors rang the police. I only grabbed her and put my hand over her mouth but she claimed I also put my hands on her throat and tried to gouge her eyes. I have never had any convictions before only a reprimand and warning nearly 8 years ago. I have attended my pre sentence report where I believe they will be recommending a domestic violence course. I'm concerned as to the likelihood of prison as in terms of sentence all options are on the table.
J - 26-Aug-16 @ 7:14 PM
Fazza - Your Question:
Hi I've been given a 3 month bail for two counts of beating first time ever on my partner bad I know but it was in self defence as she was trying to stab me my 10year old is a witness but as said she seen me beating her what's likely to happen as my partner has told my mum she doesn't want it to be over she wants me to sort myself out before she sees me again but I can't see her for three month or my children I'm no danger to them my partner has said that to the police I've looked after them since they was born 10 6 and 2 and they won't let me see the other two the ten year old I understand the others I don't I've never touched my children and never would this was a big mistake and I know my kids are missing me as much as I miss them

Our Response:
I'm afraid there is little we can advise on here as the CPS has a duty to both ensure the safety of the victim and children throughout a prosecution case. This means there can be no blurring of the lines, regardless of your partner's opinion.
CourtroomAdvice - 18-Aug-16 @ 10:03 AM
Hi I've been given a 3 month bail for two counts of beating first time ever on my partner bad I know but it was in self defence as she was trying to stab me my 10year old is a witness but as said she seen me beating her what's likely to happen as my partner has told my mum she doesn't want it to be over she wants me to sort myself out before she sees me again but I can't see her for three month or my children I'm no danger to them my partner has said that to the police I've looked after them since they was born 10 6 and 2 and they won't let me see the other two the ten year old I understand the others I don't I've never touched my children and never would this was a big mistake and I know my kids are missing me as much as I miss them
Fazza - 17-Aug-16 @ 7:39 AM
I am due to go to magistrates court for sending a noxious item in the post to someone (nothing life threatening) but I also breached data protection law as got there address off of the computer at work, it is my first offence in my whole 45 years and I have been beside myself for the last few months about going, my advocate is going to try to get a probabtion report done on the same day at court so I can get sentenced that day instead of having to go back, what do you think the chances are that it will all get finished on the same day
Jon jon - 30-Jul-16 @ 6:03 PM
I have been convicted of assault on child in new Zealand and its my first ever a offence judge said if i get favourable report its home d how do you know if its a favourable report you get and what is punishment for that
nat - 18-Jul-16 @ 9:29 PM
I'm waiting for my grandaughter abuser to be sentenced.Why do they keep putting it off . She is 10 and we need a line drawn under this once and for all . Her mum my daughter died when she was a toddler . She lived with her dad from then on . He abused her . When will this end it's been put off twice now . Why
Nan - 11-Jul-16 @ 5:48 PM
It was ordered by crown courtthat pre sentence reports be done but probation never got in touch with me what will happenwhen I am up for sentencing
H Howard - 9-Jul-16 @ 5:08 AM
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