What is grand jury witness immunity?

Unlike the majority of United States jurisdictions, grand jury witnesses in New York automatically receive transactional immunity, unless they decide to waive immunity, in writing, before the grand jury, and with their lawyer present. A witness who receives transactional immunity can never be prosecuted for any crime involved in their testimony before the grand jury. Even witnesses who actually confess to crimes before a grand jury can never be prosecuted for those crimes.

Prosecutors must be careful in deciding what witnesses to call before a grand jury, so that they do not immunize a witness for a crime, and must, when appropriate, demand that a witness waive transactional immunity.

Show All Answers

1. What is a grand jury?
2. Why does New York need grand juries?
3. Who presents evidence to the grand jury?
4. Who decides what evidence to present to the grand jury?
5. What types of evidence are received by the grand jury?
6. What is grand jury witness immunity?
7. How does the grand jury know what law to apply to a case before it?
8. How can we be sure the prosecutor acts properly before the grand jury?
9. What happens after all the evidence has been presented?
10. Do the grand jurors know about all of these powers?
11. Why is the grand jury proceeding secret?
12. Is the grand jury symbolic in New York? (It’s been said that a prosecutor can “indict a ham sandwich.”)