Sometimes in federal criminal cases, the prosecutor’s office will offer an individual immunity in exchange for information about a case, in exchange for their testimony against another party or in exchange for some other manner of information or action.
There are three basic types of immunity offered by prosecutor’s offices to individuals involved in federal criminal investigations: Proffer Letter Immunity, where you are given a “free pass” to come in and speak with the prosecutor tell them about involvement (including your own) in the criminal matter under investigation and they agree not to charge you; Letter Immunity, where the government agrees that they will not use what you say against you to either find new evidence against you for charges related to the criminal matter under investigation or to prosecute you in connection with the criminal case; and Statutory Immunity, where a federal district court judge has reviewed the testimony you would give in a matter and determined that you have a valid Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Proffer Letter Immunity is the weakest form of immunity, and may provide you little actual protection against criminal charges in connection with the matter you have given the prosecutor’s office information on. The other types of immunity offer an individual greater protection against certain current or future prosecution, although the exact manner and scope of prosecution offered by an immunity deal with vary greatly depending on how well it is crafted. This is why it is essential to have an experienced and knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney review and help draft any potential immunity offer made by a prosecutor’s office.
You should never agree to any plea deal or immunity deal offered by the prosecutor or their office without speaking with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney first. The prosecutor represents the state or federal government and neither represents nor has any stake in making things easier for you or in making deals that will benefit you. Even if an offer sounds like a good deal, you should never accept any offer made by a prosecutor until you have retained an attorney who represents you and your interests, a legal professional who can properly evaluate your case on its unique merits and advise you whether or not an immunity offer is fair, genuine and offers complete protection. With over 35 years of criminal defense experience, Attorney David Elden can properly evaluate and advise you of exactly how any offer made by the prosecutor will impact you in both now and long term.