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What Are Proffer Letters or Queen for a Day Agreements?

Mar 16, 2018 by Mike McKneely in Criminal Defense

When you face federal charges, it is likely that you will hear the terms “proffer letter,” “proffer agreement,” or “queen for a day agreement.” These terms mean the same thing: a written agreement between you and a federal prosecutor under which you provide the government with information about the alleged crime, and the prosecutor commits to not using that information against you in court under certain circumstances.

Why would anyone want to do this? With the high conviction rate in federal criminal cases, many defendants agree to plead guilty in exchange for the guarantee of a lower sentence. The proffer letter provides the framework for a conversation between you and the prosecutor that might result in a plea deal. In some cases, the information you provide might be important enough for the prosecutor to remove you as a defendant from the case, and instead consider you as a witness.

If you’re facing federal charges and want to know if a proffer letter or queen for a day agreement may be beneficial in your case, contact a Fresno criminal defense attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer at (559) 443-7442 to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

Is a Proffer Letter the Same as Immunity?

Many people confuse proffer letters with a blanket immunity from prosecution. But this isn’t the case, and assuming so is a dangerous mistake to make. After you reach a proffer agreement, the prosecutor can still prosecute you. A proffer letter only provides “limited use immunity,” which means that the prosecutor cannot use the information you give to directly prove your guilt.

Therefore, not only can the prosecution still charge you after you’ve reached a proffer agreement, they can use your protected statements against you. This can happen as a result of violating the proffer agreement. If you stray from the agreement at all, the prosecution can use your statements against you in court.

What Are the Risks Involved by a Proffer Agreement?

If you lie to the government agents when they interview you, they may charge you with perjury, in which case they may use your statements against you at trial. In this situation, you must remember that if you make any false statements, you may leave the agreement facing more charges than you were before the arrangement was made.

When you agree to sign a proffer letter, you are essentially ruling out a total victory at trial. This is because you will be giving the prosecutors information they may not already know, which will necessarily strengthen their case should it go to trial. With the high conviction rate in federal courts, many defendants and their lawyers are not aiming for a total victory during a trial. But if you know you are innocent of all charges and want to win your case, you should not talk to government agents or enter into any agreements with them.

If you go to trial after entering into a proffer agreement that doesn’t result in a plea deal, some of your options will be limited. You probably should not take the witness stand, because the prosecutor may be able to use the information you provided during the proffer to show that you are not a trustworthy witness if your testimony contradicts what you have already told them.

Your statements from an interview with the government may be detrimental if introduced the prosecution’s case. Your statements won’t be in the form of an audio recording, but in the form of notes from the agent that interviewed you. This means that the prosecutor can, in limited circumstances, put words in your mouth if you go to trial after a proffer agreement.

How a Fresno Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

You should only enter into a proffer agreement if you are certain that obtaining a plea deal is the best possible outcome of your case. Making this determination can be a complex decision. You and an experienced criminal defense lawyer will need to carefully weigh all the factors of your case before deciding to negotiate with a prosecutor.

At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we stand ready to defend the rights of the accused as they confront the criminal justice system. The early stages of the criminal process are often the most crucial. If you are facing federal charges, or even if you suspect that you are being investigated by federal law enforcement, you need to act now.

Contact us today at (559) 443-7442 to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

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