For those facing charges or undergoing investigation for criminal activities, prosecutors may use the term immunity if they have testimony or evidence that supports their case against another individual or organization.
Immunity is a way to avoid legal consequences for your involvement or association with criminal activity or individuals. In white-collar investigations, immunity is a tool to build a stronger case against the entity responsible for organizing the criminal activity.
Tool against incrimination
In some cases, individuals refuse to participate as a witness against an organization or individual given the possibility of self-incrimination. Invoking the Fifth Amendment is a way to avoid self-incriminating testimony, but a prosecutor may use immunity to convince a person to testify in criminal court. Both federal and state prosecutors have the ability to offer immunity deals.
Types of immunity
There are separate types of immunity. Transactional immunity allows an individual total protection from prosecution from their actions concerning the subject of their testimony. However, this protection is not effective if the individual commits a separate crime. Immunity in a white-collar case would not apply if the individual faces charges later for murdering their spouse.
Use immunity is the other option, but this has limitations. Although an individual’s testimony would be exempt from use in their prosecution, if independent evidence comes to light to support charges for their crime, a prosecutor may advance a case against the individual.
Immunity deals are useful in avoiding criminal charges. A prosecutor must offer the deal unless other negotiations take place.