I have been convicted of a federal criminal offense in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have been asked to participate in a pre-sentence interview. What is a pre-sentence interview?

Pre-Sentence Interview

If you plead guilty or are found guilty, you will be sentenced in a separate and subsequent hearing.  After a guilty plea at arraignment or a guilty verdict at a trial, the judge will order the probation office to prepare a Pre-Sentence Report.  The probation officer will conduct a Pre-Sentence Interview with you before he or she prepares the Pre-Sentence Report. During the Pre-Sentence Interview, the probation officer will ask about your family, medical, educational, employment and financial history.

You do not have to answer questions in the interview, but you may want to do so.  Answering questions will provide the probation officer with additional information that he or she will include in the Pre-sentence report.  That additional information will give the judge a more complete picture of who you are as a person.  If you do answer questions, you must answer truthfully or you will be subject to greater penalties or additional charges.

Typically, your attorney will instruct you not to answer certain questions.  He or she may advise you to refrain from answering questions about criminal history or offense conduct.  You may or may not want to answer questions about substance abuse history depending on the circumstances.  You may or may not want to discuss prior mental health treatment depending on the circumstances.  You and your attorney should discuss these issues prior to the interview.  You will also be asked to sign releases that will entitle the prosecutor to receive documents that will be used to confirm the information that you have provided in the interview.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.