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presentencing investigation

Presentencing Investigations In Wisconsin

How The Presentencing Investigation Affects Sentencing In Wisconsin

Judges in Wisconsin are charged with determining the appropriate sentence for convicted offenders. They take many facts into consideration as they make a determination. The most influential facts come from the current case, but this is not the only information used to make sentencing decisions. Judges can also order a presentencing investigation or PSI. PSIs are comprehensive reports about the defendant’s history and background, particularly in regard to previous brushes with the law. Some attorneys and judges consider the PSI to be the single most important document influencing judicial sentencing decisions.

The Presentencing Investigation Does Influence Judicial Decisions

PSIs gives judges a glimpse into the lives of defendants. The use of these reports began long ago when activists fought to understand the motivations behind criminal behavior in the hopes that alternative forms of treatment could correct the behavior and reduce incarceration and recidivism rates. Today, the judicial system relies on PSIs in a similar manner by sharing the defendant’s history with the judge so he or she can recommend an appropriate course of action; one that will provide the best chance of rehabilitation.

A PSI will reveal facts about the defendant’s childhood that may have influenced the actions today, such as growing up in an abusive household. The report might also reveal that the defendant has a mental illness or, if undiagnosed, that mental illness runs in the family. This information helps the judge determine whether or not the defendant might be helped by treatment programs in addition to or instead of a jail sentence. 

In felony cases, the judge will closely examine any past criminal history and may factor that into the sentencing. For example, if a group of young men are guilty of felony home invasion and one of them has no prior record while the others have a history of criminal activity, the judge may be more lenient on the one without a record of past crimes.

Wisconsin Defense Attorneys Help Defendants Navigate A PSI

PSIs play an important role in sentencing, but they aren’t the only factor that judges take into account. A strong defense and sentencing argument by a skilled criminal defense attorney can make all the difference for the defendant’s future. If you are facing criminal charges in Wisconsin, contact the defense attorneys at Eisenberg Law Offices in Madison.

Arrange a free consultation by calling 608-256-8356 or emailing today.