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Queen for a Day / Proffer

A "Queen for a Day," commonly called a "Proffer" or "Proffer Letter," is a written agreement to conduct an informal interview between a federal prosecutor (usually an Assistant United States Attorney, or "AUSA") and a suspect or criminal defendant regarding information and evidence he or she may have pertaining to some criminal activity. The defendant’s purpose in this interview is to provide credible and valuable information to the prosecutor in the hopes of cutting some type of deal (usually a favorable sentence recommendation) with the federal government in exchange for that information. The prosecutor's goal is to obtain new and useful information from the defendant that would further their on-going investigation or assist the prosecutor in convicting all those persons involved in the crime. The most important requirement for a successful Queen for a Day interview is that the defendant / suspect must be completely honest and truthful in the interview. That means disclosing everything he / she knows about the crime even if that means incriminating yourself in the process. The defendant must also disclose the people involved and cannot blame others or minimize his / her role in the crime.

In exchange for a look at this information, the AUSA promises not to use the Queen for a Day statements or information against the defendant in later court proceedings. The person interviewed can be a witness, person of interest, or a target of the investigation. A target is the person whom the prosecutor believes committed the crime. A person of interest is a person whom the prosecutor believes had some role or involvement in the crime. A witness is considered a person not involved in the crime but has some information that would be helpful to the prosecutor. Most Queen for a Day meetings are offered to witnesses and persons of interest. The meeting takes place in the offices of the federal prosecutor and is usually conducted in the presence of the defendant's attorney, the AUSA, and the federal agents investigating the case.

Generally, before the Queen for a Day session takes place, the defendant's attorney will have several discussions with the prosecutor to obtain an idea of the meeting and to find out what the defendant stands to gain from cooperating with the government. There is an implied promise the defendant will be offered a plea agreement or leniency, if and only if, federal prosecutors and agents are convinced that the information offered by the defendant is useful, truthful, and that the information will lead to the conviction of other more culpable defendants. The written agreement provided by federal prosecutors will not state any promises of leniency or a specific plea deal. There is only an informal understanding between the defendant, defendant's attorney, and the federal prosecutor. This is where an experienced criminal defense attorney makes all the difference to the defendant and the negotiations. If the defendant does not tell the truth in the meeting or takes no responsibility for his or her actions, then all bets are off, and the defendant can now be formally charged using derivative information from the statements made during the interview. The prosecutors cannot use the actual statements provided in the meeting but may use the defendant's statements to follow up leads and further their investigations. If the federal prosecutor discovers new evidence against the defendant, that new evidence can also be used to charge and convict the defendant. Queen for a Day statements and information provided in the interview can be used to prosecute the defendant if the statements offered were false.

If you are a suspect in a federal criminal investigation and are considering cooperating and helping the government you should immediately speak to an experienced criminal lawyer, who practices in federal court and understands the pros and cons of cooperating with the government, before speaking to law enforcement agents. An experienced criminal lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether it is in your best interests to cooperate with the government.