What is a Pre-Sentence Investigation?


Before a judge sentences a defendant for a crime, he or she normally must review a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) that a community supervision or probation officer has completed and submitted. A PSI contains information about the criminal offense with which the defendant has been charged, the amount of restitution that would compensate the victim of the crime, if any, and the criminal and social background of the defendant, along with any other information that the judge has requested.

There are some situations in which a PSI is not required before sentencing a defendant. In a misdemeanor case, a PSI is not required if:

  • The defendant asks to skip the PSI and the judge agrees;
  • The judge finds that there is enough evidence in the record to go ahead and sentence the defendant without the need for a PSI; AND
  • The judge explains his or her finding on the record.

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What is a Pre-Sentence Investigation?

In a felony case, a PSI is not required if:

  • The jury will determine the defendant’s punishment;
  • The defendant is convicted of or pleads guilty to capital murder;
  • The only available punishment is imprisonment; OR
  • The defendant signed a plea agreement under which he or she agreed to imprisonment, and the judge intends to accept and follow the agreement.

To complete a PSI, the probation officer will contact the defendant to get information about his or her version of the events surrounding the crime, as well as law enforcement’s version of the events. The officer will contact any victims of the crime to allow them to submit victim impact statements. The PSI also will contain an exhaustive list of the defendant’s criminal history. Typically, the officer also will include information about the defendant’s family, finances, educational level, and mental and physical health.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help build a strong defense against criminal charges, regardless of the type of criminal offense involved. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the beginning of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case may be too far gone to fix. Contact Peek Law Group at (512) 359-3362 today and see how we can help.

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