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Federal Criminal Case “Queen for a Day Letter”


This whole concept of a Queen for a Day Letter, or “proffer letter,”  has to do with the prosecutors in a federal case agreeing to give a written document that basically says that when a criminal defendant in a federal case meets with them, they will be protected as far as what they say.  In other words, what they say cannot be used against them in any criminal prosecution.  So, basically, you’re a queen for a day no matter what you say.  It doesn’t matter.  They can’t use it against you.

There is an exception to that.  If you say some things during your session with the government and you sign the Queen for a Day Letter and then later on, for example, there’s a trial and you say some things in the trial that are different than what you said during the queen for a day letter session.  That would be an exception to the government not being able to use your statement against you.  At that point, they would be able to impeach you with statements that you might have made that are different and important them during the queen for a day letter proffer session.

Proffer Session

Basically, the proffer session is you talking to the government after making agreement.  It can be used for a number of different things strategically.  One could be so that the government sees what your role is from your point of view.  A lot of times they’ve done a one-sided investigation.  They don’t have anything related to you and you take the opportunity to tell them about what your involvement was, with the circumstances that caused them to be arrested and you give them some mitigating factors that they might not have considered.

Other times it is an opportunity for you to cooperate with the government and give them information that they want, and if they determine in their own subjective mind that you have provided them substantial assistance, then they can help you when it comes time for your sentencing.  They can take levels off your sentence which can save you months and even years in custody.  This is called a 5K departure.

But, part of you sitting down the government is this queen for a day letter and basically, it’s a full document talking about what your responsibilities are, what the government’s responsibilities are, but the main protection that this queen for a day letter gives you is protection if you were to say something that incriminates you.  They couldn’t just go out, get witnesses based on what you said and then charge you or arrest you for a new crime based on the information that you gave during the proffer session after you signed the queen for a day letter.

Now, another exception is, let’s say they can get the information on their own.  They don’t really need your statement to do it, then they could still prosecute you for a crime that they might not have charged you with yet.  This is kind of a dicey area because a lot of times the only way they would even think to do that is y you talking to them, so that should be covered under the queen for a day letter, but that would be something your attorney would have to argue and most of the time the prosecutors aren’t doing that.  They don’t sit down with you, sign a queen for a day letter, agree to talk to you, agree not to prosecute you and then turn around and back stab you and file a criminal case against you.  I very rarely have seen that in the twenty-five years that I’ve been practicing criminal defense.

So, as far as more explanation of what a queen for a day letter is and how it might relate to your case, your best bet is to sit down with somebody like me, go over your full case 00 al the details, all the facts were you’re protected by the attorney client privilege and hire any attorney that you meet with can’t tell anybody about the discussion and then the decision can be made whether you really do want to sit down with the government and whether a queen for a day letter makes sense for you in your federal criminal case and what your best strategy is moving forward.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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