Proffer letters are written agreements between federal prosecutors and individuals who may or may not be under criminal investigation which provide incentive for some individuals to tell the government about their knowledge of crimes, with some level of assurance that their words will not be used against them in any later proceedings. However there are some important caveats to keep in mind when entering into a proffer agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office. Providing a proffer to government investigators is essentially an interview by federal investigators. Although it is preferable to giving a statement without any protections to the subject it is not an assurance that statements made by the person can never be used against them. The standard proffer agreement still permits the government to make derivative use of any statements made by the individual. This means that prosecutors can still use the information provided during the interview to develop other evidence that incriminates the person making the statement, although this is not usually the typical practice. Moreover, the proffer agreement makes it clear that any false statements made during the interview will be considered a breach of the agreement and thereby allow the United States to use any incriminating statements as direct evidence against the individual. The government may also use the proffer to impeach the individual on the witness stand in the event the person testifies in court and contradicts something that they said during the proffer. Keep in mind that specific terms of proffer agreements can vary so it is always prudent to consult the advice of counsel when considering whether to give a proffer to government investigators. For more information, contact federal criminal lawyer John Caudill.