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Presentence Investigation
Presentence Investigation Philosophy

As a component of the federal judiciary responsible for community corrections, the Federal
Probation and Pretrial Services System is fundamentally committed to providing protection to the
public and assisting in the fair administration of justice.

As community corrections professionals, probation officers preparing presentence reports possess
and use skills from various disciplines to investigate relevant facts about defendants; assess those
facts in light of the purposes of sentencing; apply the appropriate guidelines, statutes, and rules to
the available facts; and provide clear, concise, and objective reports that will assist the sentencing
judges in determining appropriate sentences, aid the Bureau of Prisons in making classification,
designation and programming decisions, and assist the probation officer during supervision of the
offender in the community.

The probation officer’s role as the court’s independent investigator is critical, although the scope
of any investigation may be modified by the court. Officers should be open to receiving information
from all parties, but should be cautious about adopting any party’s interpretation outright. It is the
probation officer’s responsibility to prepare all sections of the presentence report, including the
tentative advisory guideline range. Attorneys for opposing sides may aggressively contest the
accuracy of facts contained in the presentence report or application of the guidelines to those facts.
Officers should be prepared to respond to these situations professionally by having all supporting
documentation readily at hand. Throughout the investigation, the officer treats the defendant, the
attorneys, and others with whom they are in contact with dignity and respect.
 
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The U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System

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