Queen for a Day: Explaining a Proffer Letter

In the world of a federal criminal investigation, a “Queen for a Day” letter (AKA a proffer letter) is a written agreement between federal prosecutors and individuals who are under criminal investigation which permits these individuals to tell the government about their knowledge of the crime, under the assumption that their statements will not be used against them. Here we further explain what it means to receive a proffer letter and how it can impact your defense.  

Using a Proffer in Exchange for Dropped or Reduced Charges

Essentially, a proffer is somewhat like an audition. When an individual is under investigation or has been charged with a crime, he or she may want to provide law enforcement with information in exchange for dropped or reduced charges.  

But, how do the law enforcement authorities know if this information is truthful or if it will be useful? A proffer is a “prelude to cooperation” that allows an individual to provide bits of information to law enforcement. If the information seems viable, a more formal cooperation meeting will be arranged. 

It is critical to contact a federal criminal defense attorney immediately. Agreeing to the government’s request for a proffer session can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. Contact our Tampa, FL defense lawyer now.  

What is a Proffer Letter?

A proffer letter details the agreement between the prosecution and the individual under investigation regarding the proffer session. Typically, the letter lays out the terms of immunity from any incriminating statements being used against the individual that could be used at trial or other proceedings. 

A proffer letter should be carefully reviewed by an experienced criminal defense attorney as there are different types of immunity offer varying levels of protection – full immunity and use immunity (prevents the prosecution from directly or indirectly using the statements provided by an individual at trial if the individual is later prosecuted).  

Use immunity does not cover the following: 

  • If the individual lies during a proffer session, he or she is not protected from the government using those statements to prosecute for providing a false statement.  
  • If an individual’s statement in the proffer session is different from what is said in court, he or she is not protected from the government using those statements to impeach the individual in court.  
  • If there is independent evidence to prove a point, use immunity does not prevent the government from using this evidence.  

What is a Proffer Session?

A proffer session is a meeting in which an individual who is under federal criminal investigation gives a proffer. These meetings typically take place in a U.S. Attorney’s Office, a government agency building or a private law office. A proffer session includes the individual being charged, his or her attorney, the prosecutor and at least one of the investigating agents.  

The stakes are high and you shouldn’t go into this interview alone. You need the support of a skilled defense attorney to make sure you don’t incriminate yourself. As a former Prosecutor, Attorney Ben Stechschulte can guide you through each step of the investigation. Call us today if you or a loved one are under investigation for a federal crime and received a “Queen for a Day” letter. 

Proffers & Criminal Defense

Proffers are an important part of criminal defense, especially in federal and white-collar criminal cases. As part of a defense strategy, our criminal defense law firm often uses proffers to persuade the prosecutor to not bring charges, especially if the criminal activity is minor or when there are substantial weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.  

When these facts are presented to the prosecutor in an informal proffer session, our goal is to convince the prosecutor to not bring formal charges.  

Experience is Key to Your Federal Defense

The decision to participate in a proffer should be made with the advice of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. While a proffer can be used as a strategic move, it can also have devastating consequences if the terms are not in the witness’s favor. At Stechschulte Nell, we carefully review the proffer letter, the investigation, and the law to ensure our client is protected.  

If you are under investigation for a federal crime and received a “Queen for a Day” letter, it is critical to contact a federal criminal defense attorney immediately. The decision to agree to a government’s request for a proffer session can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. For more information on our South Tampa criminal defense law firm or to schedule a free case review, please contact us today at (813) 280-1244.  

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