What is a Grant of Immunity and Should I Accept Such Grant?
Aside from the right to a jury trial, perhaps no other constitutional guarantee is so well-known as one’s right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions from law enforcement regarding one’s potentially-criminal activities. The purpose of this protection is simple: to prevent you from involuntarily incriminating yourself and implicating yourself in criminal activity. While this right is nearly absolute, there is one way in which the prosecution and law enforcement can get you to talk: by granting you immunity.
Types of Immunity and Their Effects
A prosecutor can grant a defendant immunity in order to compel him or her to testify under oath in a hearing about matters that might otherwise implicate him or her in criminal activity. A prosecutor may grant the defendant transactional immunity: if he or she does so, then the defendant is protected from being prosecuted by any means in connection with the criminal activity about which the defendant will testify. Even if there is objective evidence that ties the defendant to the criminal activity, a grant of transactional immunity would prevent any further prosecution of the defendant for that matter.
Conversely, use immunity prevents the prosecutor from using the testimony of the defendant and any evidence that would not have been discovered but for the defendant’s testimony in a subsequent prosecution of the defendant. Unlike transactional immunity, use immunity does not prevent the defendant from being prosecuted later: instead, it only limits the evidence with which the prosecution may prove its case.
Should I Take a Grant of Immunity?
A prosecutor will typically extend to you an offer of immunity if the prosecutor believes you have information about a potential crime and the value of your information is greater than the value of a criminal conviction against you (which is typically the case, for example, when you have knowledge of a conspiracy or criminal enterprise but you yourself are not a major player in the conspiracy or enterprise.)
When the prosecution determines to grant you immunity, it is not something you can refuse to accept. That is, the prosecution can grant you immunity and compel you to testify even if you do not wish to have immunity extended to you. Failing to testify after immunity has been given to you may result in you being held in contempt of court.
Speak with an Experienced Naperville Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are arrested and are then informed the prosecution intends to offer you immunity, speak with a dedicated Naperville criminal defense attorney at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC right away. We will help you understand what this may mean for your constitutional rights and what you can expect when you are called to testify. We can also help ensure the prosecution does not violate the terms of its grant of immunity. Call us or reach out to us online and enlist us as your criminal defense legal team today.