Mr. Carlson began his career in 1971 as a Deputy Probation Officer in Sonoma County California. His primary responsibilities included preparing presentence investigation reports and recommendations for the then Municipal and Superior Courts. With the passage of the drug diversion laws in California in the early 1970's, Mr. Carlson designed and implemented a county wide drug diversion program.

In 1974, Mr. Carlson joined the United States Probation Office in the Northern District of California at San Francisco. His general responsibilities included the preparation of presentence reports and recommendations for the District Court and the supervision of federal probationers and parolees. In addition to his general duties, Mr. Carlson also administered the District wide drug treatment program, which included the recruitment and evaluation of drug treatment providers such as community based agencies and private therapists, and acted as advisor to other probation officers related to the supervision of drug involved probationers and parolees.

Mr. Carlson became a Supervising United States Probation Officer in 1983 and one of his initial duties was the development, in response to the passage of the Pretrial Services Act of 1982, of a District wide pretrial services unit within the probation office. A separate agency was later created in the Northern District of California. Mr. Carlson also supervised a unit of United States Probation Officers.

In 1984, Mr. Carlson left government service and opened a private consulting practice, focusing on the evaluation of criminal defendants, the development of alternative sentencing reports and proposals, and the evaluation of minors both for purposes of “fitness” under California state law and  for disposition hearings. At the same time, he began studying clinical psychology at the doctoral level, having already earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. Recognized for his expertise in both federal and state sentencing, Mr. Carlson was appointed Commissioner for the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization in Criminal Law for a three year term.

With the passage of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 and the implementation of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, Mr. Carlson has become a recognized expert on the Guidelines and in “departure advocacy.” He has consulted in over 1,000 Federal Guidelines cases, including advising on the structure of plea agreements, the preparation of defendants for the presentence investigation process, and the preparation of both alternative presentence reports and downward departure motions/sentencing memoranda. Following the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the United States v. Booker case, declaring that the Guidelines are advisory, Mr. Carlson focuses, in addition to the technical calculation of the Guidelines, on issues that would constitute the basis for a variance from the Guidelines at sentencing. He is a recognized expert at identifying “3553(a)” factors for consideration by the Court at sentencing. Mr. Carlson’s knowledge of community based resources is also an aid to defense attorneys in the management of their cases.


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