What is Immunity?

Immunity is a complex legal concept that can take on different forms and have varying implications depending on the context.

In criminal cases, immunity is often granted to individuals who are willing to provide testimony or cooperate with authorities. This immunity can come in two forms: transactional and use immunity.

Transactional immunity is the more extensive of the two and shields the witness from any criminal prosecution whatsoever for any crimes that may arise from their testimony or cooperation. Use immunity, on the other hand, only protects the individual from having their own testimony or evidence derived from their testimony used against them in a criminal case.

Prosecutors may offer immunity agreements to witnesses in high-profile cases or those with little physical evidence. However, the use of immunity agreements is controversial as it can be seen as giving criminals a free pass in exchange for information.

Apart from witness immunity, other forms of immunity may also be granted in criminal cases. Diplomatic immunity, for example, is granted to foreign diplomats and protects them from prosecution in the host country.

Legislative immunity is given to lawmakers and protects them from being prosecuted for actions taken in the course of their legislative duties.

These different types of immunity have their own unique features and implications, and their use can sometimes raise ethical and legal questions.