Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys understand that, sometimes–according to Minnesota’s “immunity from prosecution” statute–a witness to a criminal act may be commanded “by the chief judge of the district or a judge of the court in which the proceeding(case) is pending” to “answer questions or produce evidence” that would make this witness appear to have been involved (incriminated) in the witnessed criminal act, or in another criminal act.
In these situations, it is assumed that the judge expends enough time and effort to assure that the witness’s responses and evidence “would not be contrary to the public interest,” and would not likely cause the witness to be vulnerable to prosecution “in another state, or in the federal courts.”
Take, for example, a “getaway driver” who believes he is merely giving an acquaintance a ride to the bank when this “friend” hurriedly exits the bank with a satchel full of bills and orders his “chauffeur” to “drive till we reach the next state!” This driver-witness, many would presume, is just as guilty as the robber. In questioning this witness at the judge’s order, however, prosecutors, in many instances, would be unable to use the witness’s testimony against him.
Any witness “privileged to withhold answers…or evidence,” however, must respond to prosecutors’–as ordered by the judge–demand for answers and evidence in a complete and entirely truthful manner. If this witness responds otherwise, he/she “may be prosecuted or subjected to a penalty…for perjury, false swearing, or contempt.”
Imagine, for example, that the getaway driver-witness described above lied about having been ignorant of his acquaintance’s motive for needing a ride to the bank, and that this driver-witness knew where the gun (carried, but not) used to intimidate bank personnel was hidden–but never mentioned this weapon to investigators or prosecutors. This could be legally construed as a “failure to produce evidence.”
A few months a later, when another “witness”-who conspired with the driver and the robber–confesses all the details of the crime, the driver-first witness could very well be indicted for perjury and/or contempt–if the second witness’s details can be corroborated.
Please contact us if you have been court-ordered to appear in a criminal, or in a grand-jury, proceeding to give testimony and evidence about a crime in which you could “appear” to (also) be involved. We understand Minnesota statute 609.09, Immunity From Prosecution, and will advocate determinedly on your behalf.