How Immunity Works In Federal Criminal Cases
If you were involved in a crime, albeit even indirectly, you may be facing the fact that you have a lot of jail time ahead of you. Since no one really wants to spend time in jail, it’s understandable that you may be seeking a way to reduce your sentence if not free yourself from punishment entirely. After all, you don’t want to be torn away from your family and livelihood. One method you may have heard about is immunity. This article will discuss immunity and its function in federal criminal cases.
What Is Immunity?
Essentially, there are three kinds of immunity. At its heart, however, immunity is a deal that can be negotiated with officers under certain circumstances. If the officers are desperate enough for information, they may be open to negotiation immunity terms with you. This is provided that you have information that is of worth to them. However, it’s important to distinguish the three different types of immunity, so you can be sure that you’re receiving the best deal.
The first kind of immunity is known as proffer letter immunity. This is also known as a King or Queen for a day letter. This requires you to speak to the government and inform them of the information that you have. This information you provide cannot then be used against you in court with two exceptions. The first exception is that they can collect evidence that the information you provided leads them to against you. So, if you disclose a location to them, they can investigate the area and if they find evidence, they can use that against you. Second, is that if you say something different in court than what you previously stated, they can use the previous information against you. This is the weakest form of immunity.
The second kind of immunity is known as letter immunity. During this form of immunity, you’ll tell the government what you know, and they promise not to use what you say against you. This also includes not being able to use evidence that they find based on the information you provided against you. Essentially, you’ll not face prosecution. Otherwise, the government will have to go through an ethics hearing to ensure that the evidence they discovered wasn’t because of the information you provided, and they’re often too busy to go through with that. This is a stronger form of immunity.
The last kind of immunity is known as statutory immunity. This type of immunity means that the judge examined the case and the possible testimony that you could provide. After their examination, they decided that you have a Fifth Amendment right that is considered to be legitimate. This means that you have the right not to say anything, but the judge orders you to tell what you do know to the jury. In return, everything you say won’t be held against you because of your Fifth Amendment right. Essentially, the information you offer cannot be used directly or indirectly against you. This includes if the government finds evidence that would otherwise incriminate you. Statutory immunity is also a strong form of immunity.
How You Can Receive It
Immunity can be rare to achieve and depends typically upon the case in question as well as the skill of lawyer that you have. For many law officers, they are being pressured by the family–in the case of murder–to locate a body. If you happen to know where the body might be and you didn’t do the killing yourself, you may be able to negotiate immunity. You can inform them where to find the body and everything you know about her killer, and you can walk away free. Another example is that if you are part of a drug ring, a government official might grant you immunity for revealing other members of the ring–particularly those in executive positions within the ring.
Essentially, it comes down to the details of the case and if your lawyer is savvy enough to negotiate for it. Immunity may be rare but it isn’t impossible to be granted. If you’re looking for a defense, you may consider immunity.