08 Jul 20

How Does Immunity Work In Federal Criminal Cases?

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Last Updated on: 6th August 2023, 02:16 am

If you find out that you are under investigation for a federal crime, you’re most likely feeling confused and overwhelmed. The early stages of your case can be extremely difficult to get through alone, which is why you need to secure the services of an attorney who specializes in federal defense. A good lawyer can explore every legal option available, including immunity, sentencing and plea options, or the possibility of victory in court to ensure that they put together an approach that will set you up for success. 

What is Immunity in Federal Cases?

If you’re entangled in a federal criminal case and you have some information that the government could use, you may go into immunity negotiations. The specific definition of immunity varies case by case, but generally, it refers to exemption from some or all forms of penalties, in exchange for giving them the information they want. Once your attorney has reviewed the details of your case and heard your side of the story, he or she can determine if immunity negotiation will be a good course of action for you as you progress through an investigation. Be advised that you should never try to negotiate with the government without your lawyer.  Moreover, never speak to investigators without an attorney present. If you do, you may end up revealing information that could be ruinous to your case, and you may miss out on the opportunity to negotiate a better deal. If you’re interested in learning more about immunity in federal criminal cases, contact Grabel & Associates now.

Three Types of Immunity in Federal Criminal Cases

In general, there are three types of immunity in federal criminal cases

Proffer Letter: The first type of immunity is known as proffer letter immunity. A proffer letter is a written agreement between you and  the federal prosecutor.  The letter states that you can give them all of the information about the case that you have, and that they will not use it against you at any stage during the case. This form of immunity is the weakest one, because while the government cannot use any of the information against you, they can indeed use it to collect further evidence against you. They could also end up using such information against you if your case proceeds to court and you say something under oath that contradicts the information you provided before.

The second kind of immunity involves an agreement between you and the government that the information you provide them will not be used to prosecute you or to find further incriminating evidence. This is a stronger type of immunity than the proffer, because if the government does stumble upon additional information, then they need to go to an ethics hearing and try to demonstrate that the evidence did not originate from the information you gave them. Your lawyer will keep in touch with the government attorneys while negotiating this type of immunity, ensuring you get the treatment you’ve been promised.

The third type of immunity is the strongest of them all. In the event that a federal judge reviews the details of your case and considers your testimony of value, then he or she can order you to speak. Because the Fifth Amendment protects your right to remain silent, what you say in obedience to a court order cannot be used against you, either directly or indirectly. Your attorney will help you understand which of the three types of immunity you are being offered, enabling you to make an informed decision.

Federal Immunity Agreements

An immunity agreement can be rather valuable in your federal criminal matter. Your attorney will look over every detail of your situation in an attempt to determine a course of action that will result in your desired case result.