What's next for Danny Heinrich?

Heinrich’s sentencing is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 21, but first, a probation officer will prepare a “Pre-sentence Investigation Report,” which examines Heinrich’s life history, criminal history, and factors, such as the killing of Jacob Wetterling. An important part of the investigation usually includes interviews with victims or their families.

“The Wetterlings will almost certainly be interviewed,” Rachel Paulose, the former U.S. Attorney for the district of Minnesota, and now an attorney at DLA Piper, told Fox 9. “Typically, they’ll ask the victims about the impact it had on their life, ask them if they have any feelings about sentencing.”

The confidential report is normally influential for judges determining the length of a sentence. However, since Heinrich’s judge will most likely impose the 20-year sentence agreed upon in the plea deal, the report could impact where the Bureau of Prisons chooses to incarcerate Heinrich.

“The [Bureau of Prisons] could consider the assessment the probation office gives, particularly in light of any health conditions, psychological disorders, or any other factors that may be relevant as to where the defendant is ultimately imprisoned,” Paulose said.


Heinrich’s sentencing will take place on Monday, Nov. 21. The judge will likely impose the 20-year sentence agreed upon in the plea, although he could depart from the deal. At the sentencing, victims and their families will be allowed to speak.

Once sentenced, Heinrich will likely serve close to his entire sentence because there’s no parole in the federal system. He could get two to three years shaved off for good behavior.

Civil Commitment

Heinrich faces civil commitment following his sentence. In fact, page eight of the plea deal states Heinrich “may be subject to civil commitment by state or federal authorities…” If committed to a federal facility, Paulose believes Heinrich could be “housed in the same facility” in which he serves his sentence depending on “psychological or physical needs.”

If committed to a state facility, it is much more difficult to predict Heinrich’s future. The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is undergoing major changes following a federal judge ruling it unconstitutional.

Paulose believes Heinrich will likely get committed.

“I think there are many factors weighing in favor of the government filing for civil commitment in this case. His repeated and admitted molestation of children, his assault, abduction, and murder of Jacob Wetterling. His possession of receipt of child pornography,” she said.

When asked whether Heinrich will ever be free again, Paulose answered, “I think many of us would be alarmed if Danny Heinrich were ever released from any facility. I understand people’s concerns about that.”