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Remorseful900 05-18-2019 08:05 PM

Character Reference Letters
 
I wanted to ask specifically to any PO’s and any attorneys on here this question

I have not engaged a “prison consultant” yet. I am in the very early stages of my case, but as i was talking with this person he said some things that made sense to me but I wanted to get other opinions

He mentioned you want to make your case stand out from the hundred of cases the judge has seen before you. For example in the character reference letter, if your married and your wife writes a letter saying that you “the defendant” is a good person, yada yada is what everyone does, and your wife or spouse should write that they are a victim of your crime and how they have supported you but state what you did and how it has impacted in a negative way their lives but you are forgive them and moving forward, something similar if you have children and they write a character letter


Also I realize the PSR interview/report is important but is there any way to contact a PO even those on here and do a mock PSR, I understand your attorney should help you with that, but since it is only one shot at it, I would think the more practice the better the outcome

Girl22472 05-18-2019 08:33 PM

I'm not an attorney or a PO but I was present at my husband's PSR interview. It was very cut and dry... just basically took names and addresses of family members, low down on childhood, leading to adulthood. If you moved around... where and when. They ask about alcohol or drug abuse that you, or any family member may have had as well as any abusive relationships that were towards you or that you witnessed. They asked about medical issues and any therapy you may have been involved with whether it was in relation to your crime or not.

Well, at least that was why the PO asked my husband.

rockchalk1 05-19-2019 06:19 AM

You're really over-thinking this. There is no need to do a mock PSR. The PO doing the PSR will collect and verify background information on you from many sources, not just you. They should be doing an interview with you, your wife, possibly other family members, do a home visit, verify educational information, past and present occupational information, medical information, etc. If someone is offering the service to you for payment, don't waste your money.

Character letters are not part of the PSR and should be sent under separate cover, first to your attorney (but written to the Judge) and then the attorney should then forward them on to both the prosecutor and PO.

If any issues come up later, you can then add them to your PSR.

Also, if the PSR is erroneous in any way, once you get it, which should be well before you're sentenced, then that can be addressed. The PO in my husband's case made a ton of errors including factual, but the attorney told us not to debate or have them changed because they were not pertinent enough to his sentencing and it wasn't something we wanted to annoy the PO over since she ultimately makes a recommendation to the Judge on sentencing and you want it to be as favorable as possible.

The PSR is not a public record. When it is complete, only you, your attorney, the judge and the prosecutor get a copy. Later the prison gets one as well. My husband corresponding at times directly with the PO when he had information to update.

The other big part of the PSR which was very time consuming was all the financial information he had to provide. He also had to include a lot of my stuff in this part, including my bank accounts, my credit cards, my work info, assets, etc. So be prepared to include this as well.

As far as character letters, your attorney should know your judge well enough to know what he/she is looking for. He should know your judge way better than any prison consultant would know your judge, so take heed of that. You can research on your own through pacer by looking up your judge's cases and see if he/she generally goes well below guidelines or not. That may be reassuring to you or it might not be. But don't waste your $ on a prison consultant. But you have an attorney and he/she should be doing their job.

Feel free to pm any questions. We researched a ton of this and were fortunate enough to come out with a positive result. One important point, better yourself during this process while you are waiting to be sentenced, even if you have not pled yet. Do whatever you can to be a better person. Volunteer, give to charity, seek therapy. Anything that shows remorse (as your handle states), that will go a long way. Also, make an effort to pay some restitution (if you owe it) on your own.

My husband's guidelines were 57-71 months and he got 18. Definitely due to all the information we took that was out there and educate ourselves.

Taliba00 05-19-2019 11:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rockchalk1 (Post 7776831)

As far as character letters, your attorney should know your judge well enough to know what he/she is looking for. He should know your judge way better than any prison consultant would know your judge, so take heed of that. You can research on your own through pacer by looking up your judge's cases and see if he/she generally goes well below guidelines or not. That may be reassuring to you or it might not be. But don't waste your $ on a prison consultant. But you have an attorney and he/she should be doing their job.

This.^^^^

And everything else Rock said. (I am not an attorney either, but did write a lengthy character letter to the judge). The attorney should guide you through the character letter process. If he/she is doing their job, you will be given pointers as to how to address that particular judge. Attorneys know judges for years and have an insider's knowledge about how to approach them best.

The character letter should not get bogged down in details of the crime or how it's affected you and the family. It should speak directly to who the person is to you and how much they mean to your life and its happiness (hopefully).

yourself 05-19-2019 11:40 AM

Look, if you are really early in the process, you do not want to have a bunch of people putting stuff in writing that admits your guilt.

Once you have a plea deal in place, then start collecting character letters. Look in the legal section here for what to do and not do, because you have a bunch of stuff that is erroneous about what should and should not be there. All of it should go through your attorney.

If you have a private attorney, your hand will be held a lot more on this stuff and PSI prep.

Until you actually have a plea in place, don't go there. Live life. Do what your attorney suggests to mitigate punishment. If you absolutely know you are going to plead guilty, start putting your affairs in order so that you are not overwhelmed when the time comes to self surrender.

worldwide 05-19-2019 12:48 PM

My attorney knew a former Federal PO that could prepare a mock PSR. He said we would be able to use it as evidence at sentencing and call her as a witness if there were major discrepancies between her version and the PO who prepares my PSR. The cost was not worth it and, ultimately I do not know how much it would have helped in case there was an issue.

Remorseful900 05-19-2019 02:46 PM

Thank you all for your advice

Yes i am in the early stages of my situation, and I am trying to show the judge, PO, and all stakeholders in the judicial process that yes I committed a crime and it was my first offense but I am also a person who has done good deeds and to not judge me solely on one item in my life but to look at my life in its entirety

Maybe I am just dreaming, but showing remorse, cooperating with the government, a good Psr, good character reference letters, volunteer work or community involvement, going to addiction support group seeing a therapist and working in a field unrelated to your crime
All these combined as a whole would show the judge this was one small blip on my life and to get some leniency

fbopnomore 05-19-2019 04:31 PM

What you think may not be what the court does, especially your specific judge. Listen to the informed advice from your lawyer, and from folks on PTO who have already completed the nightmare you are now facing.

Sometimes what isn't said in letters, PSI, etc. is more important than what is.

Remorseful900 05-19-2019 04:47 PM

Thanks again to all

Maybe I have asked this in a thread before
But if you live in a non community property state and hence any restitution or fines is your sole responsibility and not your spouses why do on the PSR do you have to include spousal financial information

rockchalk1 05-19-2019 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Remorseful900 (Post 7776912)
Thanks again to all

Maybe I have asked this in a thread before
But if you live in a non community property state and hence any restitution or fines is your sole responsibility and not your spouses why do on the PSR do you have to include spousal financial information

Yeah that used to irritate me as well. Our lawyer said that although it couldn’t be used in any way shape or form, if they even suspected my husband was hiding assets through me or not reporting my assets and they later found out I had assets which weren’t reported then they could possibly assess a higher fine to him and that was not something I wanted to be a part of. They want to make sure there are no fraudulent conveyance or asset issues. Just be honest even if it’s none of their business. Even now on the supervised release he has to report some (not many) of my assets and it irks me but it’s so nominal as I know not to commingle anything that I don’t want reported. He also paid his restitution before sentencing so I didn’t wanted him to get a fine. It only goes in the psr it is not public record.

yourself 05-19-2019 08:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Remorseful900 (Post 7776912)
Thanks again to all

Maybe I have asked this in a thread before
But if you live in a non community property state and hence any restitution or fines is your sole responsibility and not your spouses why do on the PSR do you have to include spousal financial information

As stated, fraudulent conveyance of assets, but also how much you can afford in restitution. If your spouse is making a killing, you can afford more.

Look, community property means half of yours is your spouse's, and visa Versa. You get that. But, the algorithm they use to determine what is actually yours and what is actually your spouse's depends on a lot of things. It isn't enough that the house is in the spouse's name - if you paid or allowed your spouse to pay the mortgage because you were covering other costs, the house may be a joint asset. If you have joint accounts, you have commingled assets. They can and will go after at least some of this - cars, boats, etc.

You both need to talk with attorneys. Yes, your criminal offense is paramount in your mind atm, but protecting your family should also be there. Spouse should be putting wages into an account that you do not have access to - those assets are solely your spouse's assets. You need to be very careful about transfers, quitclaiming deeds, selling cars, etc. document every penny.

Seizure procedures usually follow a conviction. What you are convicted of counts. You need to tread very carefully to protect your family. You need to cooperate, but only when there is an appropriate deal in place according to your criminal lawyer.

A mea culpa is great, but it is not the same as justice. Slow down. Make an appointment with your estates attorney. Change your will, get a POA, have your spouse open an independent account. Start documenting everything. Don't sell anything major. Don't purchase anything major. Back up purchases with documentation - when did you buy your house? Who pays the mortgage? Where does the money come from? How long have you had it? Same with cars, boats, education accounts, 401(k)s, etc.

Character letters are great, at the right time and right circumstances, proofed and corrected by the writer and your attorney. Cooperation is great, in the right place and at the right time. But, you are not there yet. Slow down. Protect your family by listening to your attorney.

Girl22472 05-19-2019 08:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Remorseful900 (Post 7776900)
Thank you all for your advice

Yes i am in the early stages of my situation, and I am trying to show the judge, PO, and all stakeholders in the judicial process that yes I committed a crime and it was my first offense but I am also a person who has done good deeds and to not judge me solely on one item in my life but to look at my life in its entirety

Maybe I am just dreaming, but showing remorse, cooperating with the government, a good Psr, good character reference letters, volunteer work or community involvement, going to addiction support group seeing a therapist and working in a field unrelated to your crime
All these combined as a whole would show the judge this was one small blip on my life and to get some leniency

As everyone has said... slow down a bit. There's plenty of time to worry about this. My husband also has a first crime under his belt now.... His timeline isn't exactly typical in some ways, but in others it is. We had a search done on our house in November of 2016. There was a seizure of a computer and no arrest or any more contact for the next 18 months. In the beginning we were devastated and for the first few days we were nearly catatonic and non-functioning. The following week (this all occurred around Thanksgiving) hubby went into in-patient therapy. After his release he continued with out-patient daily care for two weeks and then 3 times a week as well as attending meeting twice a week. He also found a therapist that specialized in his issue after three attempts at others and going to referrals. But, while we got a new normal we still had this cloud over us. He was arrested May 21, 2018, spent 10 days in jail and released on house arrest on May 31st. He signed a plea agreement in October of 2018 and saw the PO writing the PSR two weeks later. There have been 3 sentencing continuations with little else moving forward since that time. The 4th sentencing hearing is set for July 1st.

My point is that you cannot let this control every minute of your life. Not only do you need to make sure your family will be prepared for what may lie ahead.... but you also need to work at maintaining the relationship/s you have now. You don't want to make yourself a burden, useless or a PITA before you go. Sometimes my husband will say things that indicate he would like for me to act now as if he's already left and put distance between us. He thinks that will help me prepare better for him leaving. I have had to let him know that while I understand he doesn't want it to be overly difficult for me emotionally he NEEDS me to miss him. If I don't care if he goes, I'm not going to care if he comes back. He/we don't want that. Don't let this totally consume your life until you absolutely have to.

worldwide 05-20-2019 06:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Remorseful900 (Post 7776900)
Thank you all for your advice

Yes i am in the early stages of my situation, and I am trying to show the judge, PO, and all stakeholders in the judicial process that yes I committed a crime and it was my first offense but I am also a person who has done good deeds and to not judge me solely on one item in my life but to look at my life in its entirety

Maybe I am just dreaming, but showing remorse, cooperating with the government, a good Psr, good character reference letters, volunteer work or community involvement, going to addiction support group seeing a therapist and working in a field unrelated to your crime
All these combined as a whole would show the judge this was one small blip on my life and to get some leniency

What you described is exactly the right things to do. It is the only thing you can control from this point forward. You can put your head down and mope or you can be, think and, do as many positive things as possible
Whether or not the judge takes it into account and gives you credit for doing it wont be determined until sentencing but, I can assure you it cant hurt. At the very least your mind will be in a better place when facing the obstacles which are ahead of you.


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