The court will review a Pre-Sentence Report (PSR) that will be prepared by a United States Probation Officer (USPO). You will be interviewed for this report by the USPO. I always recommend you have your attorney present for this interview and decide before speaking to the USPO if you are going to make a statement about your criminal conduct. I prefer to defer this to a written statement. The statement regarding your offense is usually most effective if you plead guilty. This can give you some points off of the Federal Sentencing guidelines and is called acceptance of responsibility. (See United States Sentencing Guideline Manual Section 3E1.1). In most cases if you are convicted by trial you do not want to discuss your offense with the probation officer.
In preparing for sentencing you and your attorney should discuss the guidelines;
- Start calculating the guidelines or estimate what they may involve before trial.
- Discuss the legal, technical and personal issues that affect the outcome of the guidelines and what downward departures might help mitigate the guidelines or sentence.
- Identify and areas of guideline departures or other factors not related in the guidelines pursuant to U.S. v Booker and 18 U.S.C 3553.
- The guidelines are not mandatory but they are where the court will begin considering the sentence to impose. It is not easy to get a departure so start your guideline and sentencing strategy early.