The United States Probation Office
District of Colorado

Hon. Philip A. Brimmer, Chief Judge
Lavetra A. Morgan, Chief US Probation Officer

Our mission is to make the community safer by facilitating the administration of justice, providing opportunities for positive change while maintaining professional integrity, dignity, and respect for all.

Our Services

Pretrial Services

The Pretrial Services officer is normally the first contact a defendant has with the Probation Office. The Pretrial Services officer performs an important service to the Court and the community during this initial contact with the defendant. Innocent until proven guilty is a basic principle of our judicial system. Because Pretrial Services officers primarily work with those accused of a crime, they must fashion their day-to-day activities around this important constitutional concept.

The Pretrial Services officer conducts an interview with the defendant prior to the defendant’s initial appearance before the U.S. Magistrate Judge. The purpose of the interview is to obtain information about the background of the defendant in regard to his or her ties to the community (i.e., length in the community and family resources), criminal history and any information relative to mental health or substance abuse history. The officer provides this information to the Court, usually in a written report. This report is then used by the Court to evaluate whether the defendant presents risks of nonappearance or danger to the community. The Pretrial Services officer assesses whether any conditions or combination of conditions exist that would reasonably assure the defendant will appear for further Court proceedings and would reasonably assure the safety of the community. Once this determination is made, the officer recommends to the Court what the officer believes are the most effective and least restrictive conditions of release. These conditions may include bond supervision by the Probation Office and conditions relating to travel, employment, substance abuse and mental health treatment, possession of firearms, and location monitoring.

For a defendant released on bond supervision, the Probation Office is responsible for monitoring the defendant in the community and ensuring that the defendant is complying with all the conditions of release until such time that he or she either is found not guilty, surrenders to an institution to begin service of sentence, or is otherwise ordered removed from supervision by the Court.

Presentence

Once defendants either enter a plea of guilty or are found guilty at trial, they enter the next phase of the judicial process as it relates to the U.S. Probation Office. Defendants will now come into contact with a probation officer assigned to the Presentence Investigation Unit.

Following the change of plea or guilty verdict, the defendant will meet with a U.S. Probation Officer who will interview the defendant in preparation of completing a presentence investigation report. During this interview, the officer will ask the defendant about his or her personal history, including family, education, employment, medical history, drug and alcohol use and financial status. The interview is followed by a period of active investigation by the probation officer to both verify the information that was provided and to obtain any additional information that will assist the Court in fashioning an appropriate sentence. In addition to the social history information outlined above, the probation officer may conduct an independent review of the facts underlying the offense of conviction.

In the presentence investigation report, the probation officer sets forth the sentencing options available to the Court, including the applicable statutory penalties and the applicable provisions provided under the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines. Sentencing options may include imprisonment, a fine, probation, and/or supervised release, which is supervision by the United States Probation Office following a period of imprisonment. The probation officer makes a sentencing recommendation to the Court, including a recommendation for any conditions of supervision that may be appropriate based upon the defendant’s personal history or the nature and circumstances of the offense.

Another important aspect of the presentence investigation report is the inclusion of restitution information in those cases where restitution is a consideration or required by law. This information includes identification of the victim(s) of the case and the precise amount of restitution that should be ordered by the Court. During the investigation into the financial status of the defendant, the probation officer will analyze the defendant's financial records and will recommend to the Court a restitution payment plan, to include any lump sum payment that can be made at the time of sentencing.

The presentence investigation report is a crucial cog in the sentencing process. The presentence investigation report is utilized by the Court to fashion a sentence that meets the statutory purposes of sentencing, including punishment, deterrence, protection of the public, and correctional treatment. When incarceration is imposed, the Federal Bureau of Prisons uses the presentence investigation report to effectively place the defendant into the proper facility and programs (e.g., substance abuse treatment, sex offender treatment, etc.). Finally, the Supervision Unit of the U.S. Probation Office utilizes the report during the pre-release investigation phase to structure appropriate supervision plans to assist in maximizing the success potential for the defendant under community supervision.

Supervision

U.S. Probation Officers assigned to the Supervision Unit are responsible for the community supervision of offenders who have been released by the Court on bond supervision, sentenced directly to probation by the Court, released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons to the supervised release portion of their sentence, or are released on a parole sentence under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Parole Commission or military authorities.

At the commencement of supervision, the U.S. Probation Officer will thoroughly explain to the offender the conditions of supervision, including mandatory, standard and special conditions of supervision; the expectations of supervision; and potential consequences for noncompliance. Mandatory conditions apply to every offender sentenced to a term of supervision and are required by law. Standard conditions of supervision are a set of conditions adopted by the sentencing Court that provide structure for the offender and address basic requirements of supervision. These include conditions pertaining to reporting to the probation officer, maintaining employment, and notifying the probation officer of law enforcement contact. Special conditions are used by the Court to provide the probation officer with the authority to address risk related issues specific to a particular offender and can include such conditions as location monitoring, substance abuse testing and treatment, or mental health treatment, among others.

A primary responsibility of the Supervision Unit of the U.S. Probation Office is the protection of the public through proactive risk control supervision techniques designed to detect and deter any further criminal behavior of the offender. The probation office uses a two-pronged approach in exercising their statutory responsibility. The officers utilize a combination of controlling and correctional strategies to deal with the risks related to a specific case and to bring about a positive change in the offender’s behavior, maximizing the offender’s potential for success during the supervision process and beyond.

Conditions of supervision may be modified during the course of supervision to address new issues that have arisen. Noncompliance with supervision is reported by the U.S. Probation Office to the Court or the U.S. Parole Commission. Upon finding that an offender has violated his or her conditions of supervision, the Court makes a determination whether additional conditions need to be put in place or whether, due to the nature of the noncompliant behavior, removing the offender from the community and returning the offender to incarceration is warranted.