Texas Criminal Immunity

Texas criminal immunity laws can be very beneficial to a criminal defendant. Texas has very specific types of immunity which grant is statutory provisions in the Texas Criminal Code.

In Texas criminal law, immunity refers to the protection granted to an individual from criminal prosecution. There are two types of criminal immunity that may be granted in Texas:

  1. Transactional immunity: This type of immunity completely protects an individual from prosecution for any crimes that they may have committed related to their testimony or cooperation with authorities. This type of immunity is typically granted in exchange for an individual’s cooperation in a criminal investigation or prosecution. Transactional immunity is broader than use immunity because it conveys immunity for the entire transaction. Transactional immunity may bar prosecution for crimes not previously known to the police. 
  2. Use immunity: This type of immunity only protects an individual from the use of their testimony or other evidence against them in a criminal prosecution. This type of immunity is also called testimonial immunity. It does not protect the individual from being charged with a crime or from being prosecuted by any other evidence against them that didn’t come from their testimony. In other words, the witness is only protected from the incrimination for the words that come out of his mouth.

It’s important to note that the prosecutor has the power confer immunity to a witness, but only with approval of the trial judge. Transactional immunity gives the greatest benefit to the defendant but is not often offered by the prosecuting attorney.  Use immunity is used much more frequently. If a person is granted immunity, then they must testify. If they refuse to testify, then the judge can hold them in contempt, and they can face jail time and a fine.

A defendant’s criminal lawyer can negotiate an immunity agreement with the prosecutor. An experience criminal attorney will review all discovery and determine if an immunity agreement will benefit the client. Immunity agreements must be in writing and approved by the trial court judge.

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