A pre-sentence report is a legal document that details the personality of the accused individual and the circumstances that led to the crime. This report is normally made once the investigation has been completed and before a sentence is announced.
Other information is also included in a pre-sentence report to help the judge and the jury decide on the most suitable sentence for the guilty party. With this type of report, judges are given a clear picture on the danger posed by the accused person, the possibility of him or her committing the crime again, the kind of sentence that will be effective in the defendant’s rehabilitation and the type of support system available to him or her once the sentence has been served.
An officer of the court usually from the probation or other corrections department is tasked to prepare the pre-sentence report. This follows a pre-sentence investigation which looks deeply into the personal background, social history, medical and psychological records of the accused. A form may be used to be filled out by the offender asking for information on the marital status, number of children, employment history, interests and financial status.
The main objective of a pre-sentence report is to help the judges and the jury understand the circumstances that led to the crime, the incidents that occurred before, during and after the crime was committed. Additionally, it attempts to explain the consequences of the crime on the part of the victim and his family and the future impact it will have on their lives.