The Court Services units of the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Division of Parole and Probation (Division) conduct detailed investigations of persons convicted of felony or gross misdemeanor offenses and make sentencing recommendations to the District Court Judges through a legal document called a Presentence Investigation Report. (NAC 213.580; 213.590; 213.600 and NRS 176A.100(3); 213.10988)
The reports detail crimes that vary from the most serious offenses that include murder, sex offenses, crimes against children, to the less serious offenses that include theft and substance abuse.
In order to more effectively utilize sworn officers for peace officer functions, civilian staff called Division Specialists (Court Services Specialists) conducts the Presentence Investigations and prepare the reports. These Specialists are part investigator, part Para-legal, and part report writer. Each Specialist attempts to personally interview each offender and conduct a thorough investigation, which includes interviewing victims to determine the impact the crime had on them physically, emotionally and financially. Contacting the victim of a crime is taken very seriously by the Division; our mission includes doing everything possible to make the victim whole.
NRS 176.145 mandates that the report of any Presentence Investigation contain the following information to help the District Court in imposing a sentence:
- Any prior criminal record of the defendant;
- Information concerning the characteristics of the defendant, his financial condition, the circumstances of the offense;
- Information concerning the effect that the offense had upon the victim, including physical of psychological harm and financial loss;
- Information concerning the defendant's child support obligation, if applicable, and if he is in arrears in payment;
- Any evaluation outlined in NRS 176.145; and is applicable a psychosexual evaluation;
- A recommendation of a minimum and maximum term of imprisonment, or other term of imprisonment authorized by statute;
- A recommendation, if the Division deems appropriate, for a regimental discipline program; and
- Any information required by the court or any information the Division believes would be helpful to the court in imposing a sentence, in granting probation, or in correctional treatment.
The Presentence Investigation Report is more than a powerful tool for judges at sentencing. It serves many important and useful purposes:
- It is used by the Division officer when the offender is released to either probation or parole
- It is used by the Nevada Department of Corrections for inmate classification and designation
- It is used by the Parole Commission in evaluating the granting of parole for inmates
- It is used to locate fugitive or absconders, and in the investigation of a new crime
- It is used by correctional treatment agencies in the rehabilitation of offenders
- It is used by other states if the offender is approved for transfer under the Adult Interstate Compact agreement
The Specialists play a vital role in the criminal justice system. They are expected to be objective and thorough in their investigation and report. The Presentence Investigation Report will be a document that will affect an individual's life for years to come and in many cases their entire life.