If your attorney is counseling that you should consider going in for a proffer session, you may be asking yourself, what is it and how to prepare for a proffer session? You are not alone in asking that question. That is because proffer sessions are rarely used in New York state practice, although they are a bit more prevalent in federal criminal cases.
What is a Proffer Session?
Commonly called “Queen for a Day,” a proffer session is a meeting between you, your attorney, the prosecutor and oftentimes the case agents. A proffer session is just that, a meeting. A meeting in which the prosecutor assesses you. Specifically,
- What your involvement is in the case,
- Whether you should be a witness, a target, or a subject of the investigation,
- What kind of witness you will make,
- Whether you should be charged criminally,
- What type of plea to offer you,
- Whether to award you cooperation credit.
On Which Cases Are Invitations for Proffers Extended?
Although proffers are more prevalent in the federal criminal practice, they are extended in both state and federal practice. Proffer invitations are usually extended to individuals with multiple co-defendants on their cases, individuals with knowledge about criminal activity as well as individuals about whose criminal involvement the prosecutor isn’t sure about.
In federal cases, and sometimes in state cases, individuals under investigation are characterized as “subject,” “target,” and “witness.” Target is the person being investigated. Witness is an individual with potential knowledge about criminal activity. Subject is the category that applies to individuals who are located somewhere on the spectrum between “target” and “witness.” Subject is not necessarily a criminal wrong-doer on the investigation, but they may have more knowledge and involvement than a witness.
Proffers are sometimes extended to “witnesses” and “subjects” to determine whether they should be charged criminally. That is the prosecutor tries to get the information about their involvement ahead of time to figure out whether they should be charged. This is time do save the Government’s resources to better allocate their resources.
What are the Benefits of Coming in for a Proffer Session?
There are many potential benefits of coming in for a proffer session. Specifically, they are:
Not Getting Criminally Charged
Sometimes, when you meet with the prosecutor before they’ve arrested and charged anyone on your case, you can help the prosecutor reach the conclusion about not charging you. If you are able to convince the prosecutor that you do not have any criminal involvement in the matter and are simply a victim or a witness, the prosecutor may choose not to prosecute you. This is the ultimate best case scenario, and happens rather infrequently. In the meeting with the prosecutor, you have to be incredibly believable because the prosecutor is assessing your credibility. If your attorney is able to get the prosecutor to commit to not charging you if the proffer goes well, you must be incredibly prepared going into it.
Negotiating a Better Plea Deal or a Dismissal
Another benefit of coming in for a proffer is that the prosecutor may offer a better plea deal to you. Once again, it all comes down to your credibility. If you can successfully convince the prosecutor about your version of events, you may be getting a much better plea offer or a dismissal. Below are two examples of how coming in for a proffer can result in a better plea offer or a dismissal of the case.
In 2018, our client, a film student was charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree. The facts of the case involved our client shooting a skit about a robbery gone wrong inside her apartment. Hearing the commotion, the neighbors called the police. When the police responded, they examined the prop gun that was used in the filming of the skit, made a determination that it was a real gun and not a prop gun and then proceeded
Getting Cooperation Credit
Safety Valve Eligibility
What are the Downsides of Coming in for a Proffer Session?
A sample proffer agreement can be found here.
How to Prepare for a Proffer Session
Contact Top Rated New York Criminal Defense Attorneys
A decision on whether to come in for a proffer is one of the most calculated and strategic decisions for your case. By choosing to come in, you may be limiting the defenses you will have available at trial. On the other hand, you may be getting a dismissal or a plea deal as a result of going in. If you or your loved one have questions about proffers and whether it is best to come in, please contact us to schedule your initial consultation.