Anyone who has been under investigation for a federal crime can tell you: this is no joke. It might be one of the scariest situations you’ll ever face.
Not only do federal crimes carry harsher penalties than state crimes. The federal government has many more resources at its disposal than any individual.
A federal investigation can be confusing as well. Who do you talk to and when? How much should you say? Have you already incriminated yourself without knowing it?
All of this confusion is why you need a federal attorney with over 20 years of experience defending federal criminal cases. I will make sure you don’t incriminate yourself. Additionally, I will pursue one of the many options to bring you the best possible outcome.
What is Immunity?
One of the possible defenses for a federal case is what is called immunity. If you pay attention to law shows, it is where the mob thug character gets off scot-free because he rats out someone else, even though he has done some terrible things.
In reality, immunity deals are more like trade deals. The government is often more interested in making a big case than only prosecuting one person.
If you have information the federal government can use, you may be able to keep yourself from facing some penalties or all forms of punishment.
Three Different Types of Immunity
There is not just one type of immunity from federal charges. Generally speaking, you could reach an immunity agreement through one of three ways.
Each of these ways is different and carries a different level of immunity.
Proffer Letter Immunity
A proffer letter is a written agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor stating that he or she cannot use the information you tell them against you at any point in the case. Therefore, you can give them all the information you have.
Although it sounds like a strong deal, it’s actually the weakest form of immunity because it doesn’t stop the government from gathering further evidence against you through the information you give them.
Also, if you say something under oath in court that goes against your previous information, they can use your information against you.
A more robust form of immunity comes in the form of an agreement that the government will not use your information to prosecute you or find further incriminating evidence against you.
If government agents do find more evidence against you, they have to go to an ethics hearing to prove their new evidence did not come from the evidence you provided to charge you.
During an investigation under this type of immunity, it is imperative you have a lawyer working on your behalf to make sure your rights are not violated.
The strongest form of immunity is when a judge orders you to speak after reviewing the case if he or she thinks your testimony will be valuable.
Your Fifth Amendment rights protect you from incriminating yourself at the order of a judge (or anyone). So, if you speak due to a court order, your testimony can’t be used against you in any way, directly or indirectly.
Should You Make an Immunity Agreement?
First of all, you should never attempt to make an immunity agreement without a federal defense attorney. Furthermore, you should never even speak to a federal agent without an attorney.
Federal agents are so good at obtaining incriminating information from you that you will not be able to talk yourself out of federal charges.
Instead, you are much more likely to give them the information they don’t already have.
If you think you have information that would help you form an immunity agreement with the federal government, you need to review all the details of your case with your attorney so he or she can create the most vigorous defense possible for your case.
If you are facing federal charges, please call my office today for your free initial consultation.