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An Insight into the Grant of Immunity in Criminal Cases

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin criminal lawWhen Wisconsin or the federal government is investigating you or someone else, and they need information in your possession, they may offer you a certain form of immunity in exchange for your testimony. In the area of criminal law, there are two types of immunity that are generally available: use immunity and transactional immunity. Depending on the type of immunity you are offered, you will have different forms of protection.

 Generally, transactional immunity is favored because it provides the most protection—a total ban on using the witness’s testimony against the witness. But, use immunity serves a different purpose. It allows the witness to give information to the prosecution and bars them from using those statements against the witness in the future.

Understanding the Difference

Transactional immunity is given at a much lower frequency than use immunity because it bars the total use of your testimony, in any proceedings, against you. So when the prosecutor needs you to testify, it is usually at grand jury proceedings or at trial against someone else. They basically need you to pin someone else down.

On the other hand, use immunity permits you to provide information to the prosecution but it bars them from using that information against you. By cooperating with the prosecution, if you are guilty of any wrongdoing, this permits you to obtain a better plea deal or a reduction in your sentence. The statements can only be used to impeach your credibility at trial, should you testify differently.

However, it is important to remember that if Wisconsin offers you immunity, it does not mean that the federal government cannot use those statements against you, and vice versa.

Situations When Immunity Cannot Be Granted

Rarely, there are situations when the prosecution cannot offer you immunity. These situations include in the event of:

  • Perjury;
  • Obstruction of justice; and
  • Contempt.

But, if you commit any of these crimes after immunity is granted to you, you will not lose it.

 Alternatives to Accepting Immunity

Always remember that you have the constitutional right against self-incrimination, afforded to you by the Fifth Amendment. You cannot remain silent when answering all questions, but only on questions that you might give an incriminating response. Incriminating response are answers that could be used against you to convict you of a crime. When you agree to either of the two forms of immunity discussed above, you waive your right against self-incrimination.

Consult an Attorney

If the prosecution is pressuring you to testify to information that may be incriminating, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who will inform you of the consequences and help guide you through this process every step of the way.

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