Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.
Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.
Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.
Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Being called to testify before a grand jury can be an intimidating and stressful experience. Many witnesses worry about incriminating themselves accidentally while testifying. Fortunately, witnesses who are compelled to testify before a grand jury have the right to receive immunity in exchange for their testimony. This article will explain what grand jury immunity is, the different types of immunity, how it works, and what protections it provides.
Grand jury immunity refers to legal protections given to certain witnesses who testify before a grand jury. It prevents their testimony from being used against them in future criminal proceedings. Immunity allows witnesses to testify freely without fear of self-incrimination.
There are two main types of immunity:
Federal law only allows prosecutors to grant use and derivative use immunity. However, some states like New York grant full transactional immunity to grand jury witnesses.
For a witness to receive immunity, the prosecutor must request it and a judge must approve it. The steps are:
The immunity order only applies to the specific grand jury proceeding it was granted for. The witness could still potentially face prosecution on unrelated matters.
The extent of protection depends on whether transactional or use/derivative use immunity is granted:
If a witness who received use/derivative use immunity is later prosecuted, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that all evidence came from sources completely independent of the witness’s immunized testimony. This often protects the witness from prosecution in practice.
However, immunity does not prevent a perjury prosecution if the witness lies during immunized testimony. Witnesses must still testify truthfully even with immunity.
Yes, a witness who receives immunity can choose to later waive it. Reasons a witness may want to waive immunity:
Waiving immunity must be done explicitly in writing. It cannot be assumed or implied. Once waived, the witness can face prosecution based on their testimony.
Some common situations where prosecutors grant immunity:
Immunity is used as a last resort when critical testimony cannot be obtained otherwise. It should only be given when clearly serving the public interest.
Yes, granting immunity can potentially backfire on prosecutors if done improperly:
To avoid problems, prosecutors are careful who they grant immunity to and avoid immunizing witnesses unnecessarily. Getting approval from a judge helps ensure immunity serves justice.
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