A Pre-Sentence Report (“PSR”) is a report about you prepared for the court by the community offenders service. It is used by the Court to help decide what sentence to impose on you. It will also let the court know whether you are suitable to be placed on a Community Service Order.
A Community Service Order is an alternative to a term of imprisonment and therefore whether you are assessed as suitable can have significant implications.
Besides ascertaining whether you are medically capable and willing, the PSR will also provide the court with valuable information about your personal circumstances and attitude towards the offence.
This can help you stand out in circumstances where the Magistrate has probably seen the same offence many times before and maybe several times on the same day that you are being sentenced.
Although it may feel daunting at first, you should consider the interview with the Community Corrections worker as an opportunity to help your case.
The Community Corrections worker will obviously ask you questions but it is up to you to give thoughtful answers. Where appropriate volunteer information if you are not asked about something important.
It is not a time to air frustrations you may feel about the court process, the Police, and victims or witnesses. The interview is less about the offence itself and more about you. Even questions about the offence are really aimed at ascertaining your attitude towards it.
The interview can be relatively short, so you should spend that valuable time talking about the most relevant and important things.
The sort of things that may appear in the PSR which will not help you get the best result includes;
- Minimised his/her role in the offending;
- Apportioned blame on the victim;
- Disputed the Facts;
- Did not appear to have insight.
A Community Service Order can add additional pressure to your other commitments such as work or family. That’s okay, you should be upfront about practical issues but don’t be misunderstood as unwilling.
Finally, Community Corrections workers are people too. So, try make their job as easy as possible by being on time, looking presentable, being efficient with the time of your responses, and being courteous and respectful.
Making the most of a PSR interview is one way that you can be proactive and take a process that can sometimes make you feel powerless into your own hands.