Avoiding Legal Trouble

What Are The Different Types Of Immunity?

Crime dramas often portray immunity as a blanket for all the crimes that a person commits in exchange for his or her testimony. In reality, immunity is not as cut and dry as seen on television. There are different forms of immunity and each one only offers so much protection to a person. If you are in a position to receive immunity, here is what you need to know.  

What Is Use and Derivative Use Immunity?

In criminal law, there are two types of immunity. The first is known as use and derivative use immunity. With this type of immunity, the prosecutor agrees not to use statements you make about a crime against you.  

For instance, if you were involved in an assault with others, you could testify against the others without your words being used to prosecute you.  

There is a catch though. If the prosecutors or law enforcement officers discover evidence that proves your involvement, you can be prosecuted for your role in the assault.  

In addition to that, you could also face charges for any crime you testify to outside of the one you made an immunity agreement for. If during the course of testifying about the assault, you admit to robbing the victim, the prosecutor could opt to file charges against you for the robbery.  

What Is Transactional Immunity?

The second form of immunity is the one that is more like what you have seen on crime dramas. Essentially, it is a total form of protection against charges for anything you discuss during your testimony.  

Using the previous example, you could testify to both the assault and the robbery and not face charges based on what you say during your testimony.  

As with use and derivative use immunity, there is a catch to transactional immunity. If the prosecutor discovers that you have committed other crimes before or after the focused crime, he or she can charge you.  

For instance, if the prosecutor learns that you also assaulted another person later the same night, you could be charged for that crime.  

Before agreeing to immunity, it is imperative that you agree the terms of the conditions with your criminal defense attorney, like one with The Fitzpatrick Law Firm. He or she can help determine if the agreement is fair to you and request modifications to it, if necessary. Your attorney can also ensure that you completely understand the terms of the agreement so that you do not inadvertently end up hurting your own case.