LEGAL EAGLE: Would a Pre-Sentence Report be of benefit to me in court?
I recently went to court and entered a guilty plea to a criminal offence. I was informed that I had to go back on a future date to be sentenced and I was also told to co-operate with a Pre-Sentence Report.
Please could you explain what a Pre-Sentence Report is and would it benefit my case? I am worried as I have never been to Court before and I don’t know how this all works.
A Pre-Sentence Report is a document prepared by the Probation Service, a body independent of the Court whose job it is to work with those convicted of criminal offences and help to address the reasons behind offending. The aim is to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to avoid future involvement in offending and the Criminal Justice System.
A Pre-Sentence Report is an objective expert assessment investigating the nature and causes of offending behaviour and the risk the person poses of future offences if the underlying causes are not addressed. The report then outlines the sentencing options available to the Court. The sentence imposed is entirely a decision for the Court, but the report will clarify viable options and this can be very useful if you are hoping to persuade the Court away from immediate custody and into a community based sentence.
You will speak with a Probation Officer on one or more occasions to discuss the offence and your personal background and circumstances. Once the Pre-Sentence Report has been prepared, it will be provided to the Court directly and anything you discuss with Probation can be included. The Probation Service will also access any other relevant records for example police or social services, and will suggest any other support or concerns as a result.
The report will also suggest any supervision the Probation Service can offer with punitive elements, for example unpaid work or a home curfew.
It is in your interests that the best possible report is available to you. If you do not comply with the preparation of the report, the Court is likely to conclude that you would not comply with a community sentence or that the options for community sentences are severely limited. This may force the Court to impose a custodial sentence. Further, the Court can also consider remanding you in custody if you have not complied with the preparation of a report, to allow the report to be completed.
It is important that should you not have already sought legal advice, that you contact a solicitor to discuss your case and arrange for representation at your next hearing.
To speak to a solicitor please contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.