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Offered immunity for your testimony? Here’s what to know

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Prosecutors are hoping to take down the top boss of the crew from a recent drug bust. You’ve been arrested as an accomplice on lesser charges. The state prosecutor offers you immunity in exchange for your testimony against the boss.

Immunity is granted in order to gain the eye-witness testimony of one offender so that it may be used as evidence against a bigger offender. This means that you will serve as a witness for the prosecution. In exchange, the charges against you will likely be reduced or dropped entirely.

How does immunity work?

Immunity can only be offered by a federal or state prosecutor. They will make the offer by either obtaining a formal order from the judge, putting an agreement in writing or making a verbal agreement with you. 

There are two types of immunity that they can offer:

  • Transactional immunity is often referred to as “total immunity.” In exchange for your testimony, you will be granted complete and total immunity. Simply put, you will not be prosecuted even if you were involved in the crime.
    • There are limitations to transactional immunity. The immunity offer only covers the specific charges mentioned in the court order or agreement. If it comes out that you were involved in a different aspect of the crime, you can be prosecuted for that.
  • Use and derivative use immunity offer the witness limited protection from prosecution. Your confession cannot be used against you, and you will not be asked to testify in court.
    • There are limitations to use and derivative use immunity. you may still be prosecuted if it turns out that you have committed perjury or failed to comply with the original immunity order.

If you have been arrested for a state or federal crime you need to seek out experienced legal guidance as soon as possible.