Effect of Grant of Immunity

A statute is empowered to deprive a witness the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.  Similarly by the provisions of a statute a witness can be granted complete immunity from prosecution for the offense.

In Ronson v. Commissioner of Correction, 551 F. Supp. 450 (S.D.N.Y. 1982), the court held that the privilege against self-incrimination may be claimed in any proceeding, including administrative proceedings.  However, the privilege against self-incrimination may not be claimed in administrative sanctions that are not criminal or penal in nature[i].  Also, the privilege may not be claimed, when criminal penalties result as a mere incident of an administrative search[ii].  In re Vitamins Antitrust Litig., 120 F. Supp. 2d 58 (D.D.C. 2000), the court held that the U.S. Const. amend. 5 right serves to protect individuals from criminal liability and not from civil liability.

Federal immunity statute provides that, in a proceeding before an administrative agency a witness may not refuse to comply with an order of administrative agency on the basis of the privilege against self-incrimination[iii].  However, no testimony or other information compelled under the order may be used against the witness in any criminal case[iv].  In a prosecution for perjury, the information or testimony can be used against the witness[v].

[i] Kimm v. Rosenberg, 363 U.S. 405 (U.S. 1960)

[ii] Board of County Comm’rs v. Grant, 264 Kan. 58 (Kan. 1998)

[iii] 18 USCS § 6002

[iv] id

[v] id


Inside Effect of Grant of Immunity