Immunity is often granted to witnesses in exchange for testimony that incriminates more significant offenders in criminal cases. A ruling by the New York high court may erode a significant degree of leniency granted by the state in exchange for testimony, despite the argument on appeal by a New York criminal lawyer for the defendant.
What Is “Transactional Immunity”?
The Fifth Amendment to the constitution guarantees witnesses who testify in court to a right against self-incrimination. However, federal courts interpret this right in a narrow sense; a witness in the federal system, then, is only granted immunity from prosecution for any evidence that directly derives from his testimony. In New York courts, however, witnesses may be granted transactional immunity, which renders the witness immune from prosecution for any evidence relating to the case in question. A case was ruled upon on October 28, 2014, which, according to prosecutors, is intended to be a move toward eliminating transactional immunity.
The Case in Question
Tyrone Sweat was originally granted transactional immunity in exchange for testifying against his brother, Michael Sweat, in a stolen property case dating back to 2012, according to The Associated Press. Tyrone Sweat provided such testimony before a grand jury, but then refused to do so during his brother’s trial. The judge placed Mr. Sweat in jail for two days, as a means of trying to coerce him to testify, but was unsuccessful.
Prosecutors then sought criminal contempt charges against Tyrone Sweat for his refusal to testify after having done so at the grand jury, and after being granted transactional immunity. In an earlier court ruling it was found that applying these charges would amount to double jeopardy, which, as a New York Criminal lawyer can tell you, is prohibited. The ruling on Oct. 28, however, found that imposing criminal contempt charges upon Mr. Sweat did not amount to double jeopardy. The court argued that the charges in county court were never referred to as criminal in nature.
Punishment under state law for criminal contempt can include up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. It should be evident to anyone who is facing criminal charges that prosecutors will stop at nothing to go after them. You are doing yourself a grave disservice if you do not hire a strong New York criminal attorney to fight for your rights in court.
Call An Experienced New York Criminal Lawyer
A criminal conviction can severely impact your life long-term, making it difficult for you to find work or housing. It also is a stigma, which many frown upon, so you may find it difficult to retain friends. If you are charged with a criminal offense it is very important that you have a New York criminal lawyer in your corner who has experience successfully representing clients like you. Call Frederick L. Sosinsky today at (212) 285-2270.