Home > In Trouble > Pre-Sentence Reports

Pre-Sentence Reports

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 21 Nov 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
SoKi - Your Question:
I have been for my pre sentencing report & they have recommended I do not go to jail. I also have a mental health assessment that says suicide risk is high with a prison sentence but low without a prison sentence, what are the chances I will go to jail ? I am very scared and have 3 children who need me, please can I have some advice my solicitor wont tell me what may happen, they just say they will ask for a suspended as I have no pervious, no convictions/arrests etc since this incident, nothing at all before this.

Our Response:
We cannot predict what a court may decide. Neither can your solicitor predict what may happen. He/she is hoping that your sentence will be suspended, but much depends upon the decision made in court on the day.
CourtroomAdvice - 21-Nov-17 @ 2:26 PM
I have been for my pre sentencing report & they have recommended I do not go to jail. I also have a mental health assessment that says suicide risk is high with a prison sentence but low without a prison sentence, what are the chances I will go to jail ? I am very scared and have 3 children who need me, please can I have some advice my solicitor wont tell me what may happen, they just say they will ask for a suspended as I have no pervious, no convictions/arrests etc since this incident, nothing at all before this.
SoKi - 21-Nov-17 @ 2:01 AM
I have issue person how made false accusations that made against myself and the person changed there story so many times I lost count and this be case now from at less 4 mouths now and awake the person did accepted money for do this then pulled out of accept money but not sure if still fraud happen but I am aware for this false accusations happen and the person changes their mind about it often This person as seriously disability teenager son so I be very aware for prison sentence as be really effort him so I just look for some kind of sentence scale in Scottish law for this crimes take place against myself for possible of fraud atm or in past and false accusations/perjury. Wee put of background to the stroy I was working with the teenager how parent is acting how behind this criminal behaviour at swimming club and I have Cerebral Palsy and mild Autism and as outcome from this I had very high anxiety to stage were have got on train to try run away from it all at my lows point. I have tried to sort this with person make this false accusations about myself but meet with zero respect from it all and still continue. I feel in my mind this person need face justice of actions but don’t really what them go to prison of it as effort there teenager son badly and known I feel bad for that be the case mainly at times like Christmas if known patient is in prison.
Coach89 - 19-Nov-17 @ 9:38 PM
I've had a long running dispute with my neighbour, loud music, death threats, threatned to kill my cat. He was arrested for threatning us with a blade. Sexual comments to my wife. Last week, he threatned to kill me, so I whacked his door with a hammer andsaid, 'u don't threaten to kill a woman' I'll fu@@ing kill u!!!! I got arrested after I called the police. I'm now on bail, banned from my village, and banned from my town. Sherrif want reports done, I'm so upset, cause I can't see my wife. I'm bailed to my parents house 110 miles away. All becsuse I lost my temper. 15 calls to the police, and coming to the house,6 calls to the council, called environmental health about him, but he gets of every time. I've been s eriouslly let down buy the system!!!!
Stewie - 30-Oct-17 @ 7:57 PM
Just a bit of advice they now call anything you carry an offensive weapon,my daughter 1got caughtnwith one 6yrs ago then was stressed last week with2 she has mental health issues and I've been desperately trying to get her out of where she lives she's beaten beaten on several occasions,now there are gangs going around picking on her,we had the court case ajurned for a week for probation reports any tips would help
Fouc - 20-Oct-17 @ 7:14 PM
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
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Carey
    Re: Court: Recall on Licence
    Hi my friend is in prison and his been recalled for the same offence he has been seeing this girl at the age of 15 and she’s now 17 and…
    16 December 2017
  • CourtroomAdvice
    Re: A Guide to Court Orders
    Court - Your Question:There is a court order in place that my ex sees my daughter (my solicitor advised me not to take ex so he took me )…
    15 December 2017
  • Pole
    Re: Your Rights on Arrest
    @RaB - they probably have all evidence they require to be honest. I have been cooperating fully and have explained to the police during the…
    14 December 2017
  • Adam
    Re: Failure to Attend Jury Service
    I was in the middle of moving house when I recieved my letter about jury duty. Ive just recently found the letter, Ive missed…
    14 December 2017
  • Court
    Re: A Guide to Court Orders
    There is a court order in place that my ex sees my daughter (my solicitor advised me not to take ex so he took me ) I comply with the…
    14 December 2017
  • RaB
    Re: Your Rights on Arrest
    @pole - depends upon how much evidence they have to gather. Possession of an offensive weapon is a serious offence which normally carries a…
    14 December 2017
  • Pole
    Re: Your Rights on Arrest
    Hi. I have been arrested in march for possession of class b (cannabis - about 0.7gram) and possession of offensive weapon (pistol…
    12 December 2017
  • Joe
    Re: Probation and Community Sentencing
    I’m currently on Probation for a domestic battery offence. I’m in court on Friday for breaching this by missing one…
    12 December 2017
  • Etaf
    Re: What Happens at an Immigration Hearing?
    I had a hearing 2 months ago for a spouse visa appeal and they said the decision will be written and should come…
    11 December 2017
  • Lmack
    Re: Failure to Attend Jury Service
    I have just realised my jury duty was meant to be today... who or where do I call? I called the jurors hotline n was told I…
    11 December 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the CourtroomAdvice website. Please read our Disclaimer.