The pre-sentence report serves two important purposes. First, it is given to the sentencing judge to provide information about the defendant's social history, including such things as marital status, number of children, current living arrangements, education, employment and criminal history. The probation officer who interviews the defendant also makes an assessment of the defendant's attitude, particularly regarding the degree, if any, of his/her sense of remorse for having committed the crime at issue. THe officer will also explore your finances and ability to pay fines and make restitution to the victim. Ultimately the probation officer renders an opinion of the defendant's potential for "rehabilitation" and recidivism and makes a recommendation as to what the sentence should be. Absent a binding plea bargain, the judge relies on this report to impose an appropriate sentence. Sometimes, if the pre-sentence report reveals something extremely negative that was not known to the Court at the time a plea bargain was made, a judge will try to have the plea set aside.
The second function of a pre-sentence report is to inform the Department of Corrections about the defendant. The report travels with the now sentenced prisoner and is used for such purposes as determining the place and conditions of custody. It can even show up at parole hearings.
It is, therefore, important, to review the pre-sentence report at the time of sentencing to be sure it is accurate.
When going to the pre-sentence interview you should bring proof of all the positive factors you can gather---proof of education, military discharge papers, proof of employment, proof of community service, and letters of recommendation. Those letters are most effective if they come from people for whom you worked, teachers, athletic coaches, teachers and the like. Letters from friends and family, while helpful, are given less weight.
The most important questions you will be asked will be about expressing your regret for committing the crime at issue and causing harm to the victim. The more sincerely you express remorse the better. You will also be asked about your plans for the future---employment, housing, etc. The probation officer will also want to discuss the details of the charges to which you have been convicted. Before you do so, get advice from your lawyer. There are circumstances in which it is best not to answer such questions.
No client attorney relationship is created by answering this question. The answer is furnished for informational purposes only and is not to be acted upon without consultation with your own counsel.
I agree with Mr. Somerstein. You should also ask your attorney to prepare a sentencing memorandum prior to sentencing, that lays out all of your arguments for leniency in the case. Often the judge will have made up his/her mind prior to the sentencing hearing. The judge will review the presentencing report and anything else in the file, including your attorney's written submission. The results on the PSI are not entirely within your control, while the sentencing memorandum is.
As we don't know enough about your case, you should not consider my answer to be legal advice. You would need to consult with an attorney at length and include details about what has occurred in order to adequately assess your criminal exposure.
I fully agree with Mr. Somerstein's fine answer. It is most comprehensive and abundant in information and insights.
Make sure when you appear before the Probation Officer to be respectfull, take full responsibiilty for whatever you've pled guilty to and be very remorseful in front of them. Dress well as if you were going to church/temple and act as if you're standing before the Principal of your High School.
Bring any information/proof of treatment of any sort with you to save them time in gathering information and to make sure it actually appears in your final report.
This answer is not intended to form an attorney/client relationship and any answers do not constitute direct legal advice and should not be followed unless and until you have spoken with an attorney of your choice.