After an individual is arrested, a probation officer will interview the defendant and conduct an investigation of the defendant’s background. The information obtained by the probation officer will be used by the judge to help determine whether to detain or release the defendant into the community before trial and, if so, whether to impose conditions of release.
After an individual either pleads guilty or is found guilty, the judge will order a probation officer to prepare a Presentence Report (PSR) and schedule a sentencing hearing. A PSR is a legal and confidential document the court uses to help impose a sentence. The PSR contains facts about the offense, the charged individual's criminal history, and details about the individual’s background. During the preparation of the PSR, the individual will be interviewed and the aforementioned background information will be obtained, including financial information, and verified by the probation officer. The probation officer will also conduct an independent investigation into the offense by reviewing reports and interviewing investigating agents. The role of the probation officer at all stages of the investigation is to gather information and verify as much relevant information as possible while remaining impartial and fair to all parties.