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February 20, 2013

State Immunity: What Does it Mean and Should you be Represented?

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

February 13, 2013

We have all heard the phrase, "Nothing is Free." Navigating through our criminal justice system is not an exception. The State Attorney will offer a plea well below the statutory maximum in order to resolve a case in exchange for the accused giving up his constitutional right to a trial.

There are certain instances where the State Attorney, along with law enforcement are investigating a matter where they believe you can provide information and in exchange for such will offer you "immunity." Immunity in this context is a term that allows you to say everything you know about a specific issue without the fear that the information you are providing will result in you being criminally prosecuted for that very same information. However, there are exceptions to this. Which bring us to the question whether you need legal representation during these immunity meetings.

The answer is a resounding YES! If a questions is asked that results in an answer that either the State Attorney and/or law enforcement knows or later finds to be false, then immunity can be taken off the table and you can then be prosecuted for not only the case subject to the investigation but also for perjury since you are providing this information under oath, as if you are sitting in a court of law.

You should NEVER speak to law enformcement or a prosecutor without an attorney present. Everything you say and even the manner in which you say it WILL be used against you later. However, what an attorney says on your behalf is and will always be inadmissible and can never be used against you.

Police and Prosecutors often use the term "small fish in a big pond." This term is often used to convince you that they want your information to get another person who is more culpable (big fish). Although such may be true, this does not absolve you from criminal prosecution. Call our office and allow one of our attorneys at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. to assist you with this matter to do everything possible to ensure that you and your testimony do not result in you becoming a 'big fish."