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Proffer Agreements

Are you or someone you know being investigated or prosecuted?  In this article, I will explain what a proffer agreement is and how we can help. 

With over 40 years of experience practicing law, Mr. Richard A. Serafini is a federal criminal defense lawyer who can help you through the federal court bail process. 

What Is A Proffer Agreement: Exploring The Basics Of Proffer Agreement

In criminal law, a proffer agreement is an agreement in which a defendant in a criminal prosecution or a target of an investigation agrees to provide “proffer” or provide information to the government in return for the government agreeing not to use the statements directly against the person offering them. It is known colloquially by other names such as “queen for a day immunity” or a “Kastigar letter” after a Supreme Court decision. Importantly, a proffer agreement very rarely includes a grant of any type of immunity from prosecution. It is an essential tool used by prosecutors to gather information and evidence from individuals who may have knowledge of criminal activities. 

Different jurisdictions may include various provisions in proffer letter agreements. In the federal system proffer letters restrict the government from using any statement made during the proffer in its direct case, known in legal parlance as its case-in-chief, against the person making the statement. The government usually may use the statements in cross examination and may use them as the basis for further investigation, the results of which it may introduce into evidence in a trial of the maker of the statements. It allows the proffering person to disclose knowledge and involvement in criminal activities without fear that the statements will be used against the speaker if the matter proceeds to trial. However, it is important to note that this protection only applies if the individual provides truthful and complete information during the proffer session.

Typically, prior to entering into a proffer agreement, the individual’s attorney negotiates the terms with the prosecutor. As discussed above, the terms usually specify that any statements made during the proffer session cannot be used directly against the individual as evidence in court. However, this does not prevent prosecutors from using any independent evidence they may obtain through other means based on the provided information.

The purpose of a proffer agreement is twofold: it allows prosecutors to gain valuable insights into criminal activities by incentivizing individuals with inside knowledge to come forward, while also protecting those individuals from potential self-incrimination.

The Importance of Confidentiality in Proffer Agreements

Confidentiality is essential to proffer agreements as this ensures the information disclosed remains protected and confidential throughout the process. The parties should have an understanding of the guidelines and restrictions on disclosing and using any shared information by both parties involved. By establishing these parameters, confidentiality creates an environment of trust and encourages individuals with sensitive knowledge to disclose information without fear of reprisal or exposure. This is essential to protect witnesses or defendants from potential harm or retaliation.

In many cases, those cooperating with law enforcement agencies may be at risk from other individuals involved in criminal activities. By keeping their identities and statements confidential, these individuals can minimize their exposure to danger. Moreover, confidentiality provisions also help maintain the integrity and effectiveness of ongoing investigations. With sensitive information being treated as highly classified, it prevents unauthorized leaks that could compromise the investigation’s progress or jeopardize other individuals’ safety.

The Relationship of Proffer Agreement to Plea Agreements: How Plea Negotiations Play a Role in Criminal Trials

Plea negotiations have become integral to the legal process in criminal trials. These negotiations often begin with a proffer agreement. When the parties reach a plea agreement, often, the defendant will receive certain benefits in return for cooperation in further prosecutions and/or investigations. Plea negotiations and agreements play significant roles in the criminal justice system in the United States.. 

First, it encourages defendants to come forward with critical information that could lead to further investigations and prosecutions. This aids the defendant because the government, depending on the jurisdiction, may reduce the charges, reduce the sentence, or agree to not even prosecute the cooperator. Second, plea negotiations and proffer agreements enable prosecutors to build stronger cases against higher-level offenders by leveraging information provided by cooperating defendants with correspondingly significant rewards for the cooperators.

Call Us if You Need Representation

If you need representation in a criminal or regulatory enforcement proceeding, the Serafini Law Office can provide you with the best representation possible. Our team will work tirelessly to protect your freedom, rights, and reputation.

Mr. Richard A. Serafini is a federal criminal defense lawyer who has been practicing law for over 40 years.

He is a former senior prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. With his vast knowledge and experience in criminal law, he is the person you need to formulate an aggressive defense strategy to help you achieve the best results. Moreover, Mr. Serafini is a former supervisor in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Our law firm offers representation in criminal and civil enforcement defense throughout the United States and particularly in the following cities and states: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York. 

Contact us at (754) 223-4718 for a free consultation.