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right of exemption from a duty or penalty; benefit granted in exception to the general rule. Immunity from prosecution may be granted a witness to compel answers he or she might otherwise withhold because of the constitutional privilege to avoid self-incrimination.
EXAMPLE: Ben asserts his privilege against self-incrimination when the grand jury asks probing questions about his activities. If the grand jury gives Ben immunity from criminal prosecution for anything to which he testifies before the grand jury, Ben can no longer use the privilege. The privilege is only available when Ben is subject to prosecution for what he says, a fear that the immunity eliminates.
OFFICIAL IMMUNITY: the immunity of a public official from liability to anyone injured by actions in the exercise of official authority or duty.
See self-incrimination, privilege against [TRANSACTIONAL AND USE IMMUNITIES]; sovereign immunity.
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016