So, what is immunity? Before I answer that question, let me introduce myself. My name is Bennett Capers. I am a professor at Brooklyn Law School, where I teach courses on criminal trials and evidence, as well as criminal law, and I am also a former federal prosecutor. I was the U.S. Assistant Attorney for the Southern District of New York. And there, the question of immunity came up quite often. Such immunity may be granted by law or, for the immunity of witnesses, by prosecutors or other authorities on a case-by-case basis, usually in the form of an agreement with witnesses. In rare cases, a former witness may waive immunity as soon as it is received. This allows the prosecution to bring charges against them based on their testimony. The waiver can be explicit, meaning that the witness signs a written waiver.
Or the waiver may be implied, which may occur when a witness makes a voluntary statement to law enforcement without claiming immunity. A person sometimes implicitly waives immunity in advance by choosing to testify instead of asserting fifth-amendment privilege. Immunity is considered transactional when it is offered to a witness in exchange for his or her truthful testimony, and definitively guarantees that the witness is not prosecuted for the crime that the testimony implies. You can sometimes hear this kind of transactional immunity dubbed “general immunity,” which means you`re just telling the truth and nothing will happen to you. Transactional immunity is so rarely used because, in fact, it could completely free someone guilty of a crime. There would have to be an extremely compelling reason for a prosecutor to ever offer transactional immunity. When deciding whether or not to grant immunity to a witness, the following factors are taken into account: however, there are limits to this immunity. For example, in 1997, the Republic of Georgia lifted the immunity of its second-highest diplomat after killing a 16-year-old girl while driving under the influence of alcohol. He was charged and convicted of manslaughter, for which he was imprisoned in North Carolina for three years before returning to Georgia, where he served another two years in prison.
Typically, a prosecutor offers immunity to a person who has committed a minor crime because they believe it will help them catch or convict someone who has committed a serious crime. Often, this happens in the context of organized crime when the prosecutor`s office offers subordinate immunity in exchange for testimony against the head of the company. If you accept this type of business, you will have to testify as promised, or you can expect jail time and fines. Unlike transactional immunity, immunity from use offers somewhat narrower protection. When using immunity, prosecutors simply agree not to charge the witness with a crime based solely on testimony. While the government will not use your testimony or confession to prosecute you for a crime, it can continue to investigate and pursue any investigative evidence and prosecute you with that other evidence. Just because you get immunity doesn`t mean you can never be charged with a crime. If you`ve been involved in a crime, or if the authorities think you did, navigating your situation with the authorities can be extremely scary. Cooperating and possibly testifying against your friends or other colleagues in exchange for immunity may seem like a very attractive escape route or perhaps your only escape route.
And sometimes it`s really your best option, but not always. It is important to remember that when it comes to immunity, conditions are attached. You need to have a solid understanding of what these strings are and how to pull them. Luckily, you don`t have to deal with this alone. If you are involved in any type of criminal investigation or prosecution, regardless of the extent of the role you may have played, you must have a criminal defense lawyer by your side. Your lawyer can help you navigate situations such as immunity and can help you determine the course of action most likely to bring you the result you`re looking for. At Puglisi Law, we represent clients in state and federal matters. Contact us today to discuss your unique situation. Our editors will review what you have submitted and decide if you want to review the article. So how do you go about getting immunity or transactional immunity? In fact, in the federal system, it is spent very rarely. I don`t think prosecutors like to give it away, and for good reason.
There are other ways to obtain information from the accused. Of course, if the accused can make the presentation to the prosecutor, the accused talks about his lawyer, and normally a meeting would be held where the defendant would be present, the defense lawyer, the prosecutor. And there would essentially be a “queen for a day” agreement where the accused would put everything on the table, say everything he has to say, say why his information is so valuable, and essentially explain to the prosecutor why he should be granted immunity in exchange for his valuable information. One thing I should say about immunity is that in the federal system, the government holds all the power, all the cards. .