Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Pre-Sentence Report Definition:

A report filed with the court prior to sentencing covering the offender's personal and family history and present environment.

Related Terms: Sentence

Also known as a pre-sentencing report.

Chief Judge Kaye of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York used these words in People v Hicks to describe the pre-sentence report in the context of New York law:

"The Criminal Procedure Law provides that, where a person is convicted of a felony, the court must order a presentence investigation of the defendant, and it may not pronounce sentence until it has received a written report of such investigation. The investigation supporting the presentence report includes the gathering of a wide variety of information—including a criminal, social, employment, family, economic, educational and personal history of defendant; information with respect to the circumstances attending the commission of the offense"; and other information that the court directs to be included or is otherwise deemed relevant to the question of sentence.

"The presentence report may well be the single most important document at both the sentencing and correctional levels of the criminal process."

In the 2011 edition of the Canadian encyclopedic digest of law (C.E.D.), the authors write, under the hearing Pre-Sentence Report:

 

 

"Where an accused, other than an organization, pleads guilty to or is found guilty of an offence, a probation officer, if required to do so by the court, must prepare and file with the court a report in writingrelating to the accused, for the purpose of assisting the court in imposing sentence or in determining whether the accused should be granted a discharge.

"Where a report is tendered, it should be considered by the sentencing judge, who may found to be in error if important circumstances revealed by the report are not taken into account.

"Ordering a pre-sentence report is in the discretion of the court. A report should virtually always be ordered for young offenders and first offenders charged with serious matters, and in cases where imprisonment is contemplated."

 

 

In Canada, the 2011 Criminal Code, at §721 sets out the authority for a pre-sentence report to be authored by a probation officer and requires that the contents include reference to, among other items, the age and character of the offender and his or her criminal record.

 

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