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Presentence FAQ

Frequently asked questions
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I have some general questions about probation. Who do I speak to?

At each office location, there is an officer on duty (Duty Officer). You may call any location and ask to speak to the duty officer and he/she should be able to help you or send you in the right direction.

How do I know who is writing my presentence report?

You may call the probation office located within the courthouse in which you pled and ask the duty officer which probation officer was assigned your case.

How long before I am eligible for parole?

A bipartisan Congress enacted the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and created the United States Sentencing Commission as a permanent agency charged with formulating national sentencing standards to guide federal judges in their sentencing decisions. Congress simultaneously abolished parole so that sentences pronounced would be sentences served. The United States Sentencing Commission addressed congressional concerns by developing new guidelines that require an offender to serve virtually all (85%) of any prison sentence imposed by abolishing parole and restructuring good behavior adjustments.

Do I get good time credit while serving my sentence?

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3624(b), as in effect for offenses committed on or after November 1, 1987 but before April 26, 1996, an inmate earns 54 days credit toward service of sentence (good conduct time credit) for each year served. This amount is prorated when the time served by the inmate for the sentence during the year is less than a full year. The amount to be awarded is also subject to disciplinary disallowance. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3624(b), as in effect for offenses committed on or after April 26, 1996, the Bureau shall consider whether the inmate has earned, or is making satisfactory progress toward earning a General Educational Development (GED) credential before awarding good time credit. See Policy number 5884.01

Do I still need to report to Pretrial Services now that I have a probation officer?

You must continue to report, as directed, to Pretrial Services. Following your plea, a probation officer is assigned to you for the sole purpose of conducting a presentence investigation and preparing a presentence report.

What is the telephone number for the state probation office?

Can you tell me if someone is on supervision?

We cannot acknowledge whether an individual is on supervision, but can listen to your complaint. If it involves a violation of the law, we will refer you to local law enforcement.

What is a presentence report?

By order of the court, a probation officer makes a thorough investigation—a presentence investigation—into the circumstances of the offense and the offender's criminal background and characteristics. The officer gathers information two ways: by conducting interviews and by reviewing documents. The cornerstone of the investigation is the interview with the defendant, during which the officer inquires about such things as the defendant's family, education, employment, finances, physical and mental health, and alcohol/substance abuse. The officer also conducts a home visit to assess the offender's living conditions, family relationships, and community ties. The officer also interviews other persons who can provide pertinent information about the defendant (i.e. a spouse, child, parent, employer) and the offense (victims, prosecutor, investigating agent, coconspirators). The presentence report is a critical part of the sentencing process. It must be accurate and distinguish between information that is verified and unverified and between fact and opinion. The presentence report not only helps the court choose an appropriate sentence, but provides important information to help the Bureau of Prisons choose an institution where the offender will serve the sentence, select prison programs that will help with the offender and make release plans. It also provides the USSC with information useful for monitoring sentencing guidelines application and research. The presentence report also helps the US Probation Officer supervising the offender assess the risk the offender poses and assess the needs of the offender. The probation officer writing the presentence report makes sentencing recommendations (the amount of a fine/restitution, if any, the amount of time an offender will serve on probation, in prison, or on supervised release). He/she also recommends conditions under which offenders are released to the community.

How can I get a copy of a presentence report?

Presentence reports are highly confidential and will only be released to the defendant, defense counsel, the prosecutor, and the court. Absent a court order, no other party is entitled to a copy of the presentence report. If you think you are, for some other reason, entitled to a copy of the presentence report, you may contact a duty officer to discuss the matter.

What are the requirements for becoming a US Probation Officer?

A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and two years related experience.

What type of identification do I need when reporting to the probation office?

All persons entering the US Courthouse (or other federal buildings) must present a valid picture ID and are required to pass through a magnetometer and have all belongings and packages subject to physical and/or x-ray examination by the U.S. Marshals Service. Additionally, a person cannot bring any weapons, cameras, cell phones, recording device, or television equipment into the building. Offenders reporting to the U.S. Probation Office after release from confinement should bring with them any release papers provided by the institution.

If I am sentenced to a prison term, do I get taken into custody at sentencing?

Some defendants are permitted to voluntarily surrender themselves. This means that after sentencing, you are permitted to return home. Within approximately six weeks, you will receive a letter from the U.S. Probation Office or U.S. Marshals Service advising you of which federal prison to report to, and on what date.