HOW TO REDUCE YOUR FEDERAL SENTENCE
How do I reduce my federal sentence? Simple: make sure your PSR (Pre-Sentence Report) has the right facts and law.
The PSR (or PSI, PSIR) is the most important document for people facing a federal criminal conviction. This document serves two primary functions. First, it controls how your judge will sentence you. Second, it will determine how the BOP (Federal Bureau of Prisons) treats you.
I. The PSR
The court orders the probation office to prepare a PSR after a federal criminal conviction. This process includes an interview with the probation officer. This interview will look at many different factors, including: (1) your personal data (address, etc.); (2) previous criminal record; (3) education; (4) employment; (5) assessment (physical, emotional, psychiatric); (6) financial status; (7) military record. The PSR will include:
- The outcome of the interview,
- The contents of the plea or conviction, and
- The probation officer’s application of the Sentencing Guidelines to your case.
The PSR gives your judge a range to consider for your sentence. Obviously, that report is vital to reducing your federal sentence. Your judge will rely on the report to weigh the factors for and against. An incorrect PSR will likely lead to an incorrect (longer) federal sentence.
II. Reducing your Federal Sentence
There are multiple ways that you can reduce your sentence.
a. Review your PSR: Errors in PSR’s are not uncommon. Although probation officers are an “arm of the court,” they make mistakes when applying the Sentencing Guidelines. These mistakes can raise your sentence by months or several years. Similarly, probation officers may incorrectly apply the law to your facts. This can also lead to an inaccurate PSR (and longer sentence).
b. Beyond initial sentencing, the PSR will follow you through:
- your incarceration,
- when you are released to a Residential Reentry Center, or “halfway house”, and
- can affect how you are treated by probation after your release.
The BOP follows the PSR to determine what treatment you receive, what security level you require for housing, medical treatment, visitors, and eligibility for further sentence reductions. Finally, your probation officer may place more conditions on you due to the contents of the PSR.
Steps can be taken to prepare you for your interview and to correct mistakes when your PSR is written. Taking these steps can reduce your sentence.