§ 5947.  Immunity of witnesses.

(a)  General rule.--Immunity orders shall be available under this section in all proceedings before:

(1) Courts.

(2)  Grand juries.

(3)  Investigating grand juries.

(4)  The minor judiciary or coroners.

(b)  Request and issuance.--The Attorney General or a district attorney may request an immunity order from any judge of a designated court, and that judge shall issue such an order, when in the judgment of the Attorney General or district attorney:

(1)  the testimony or other information from a witness may be necessary to the public interest; and

(2)  a witness has refused or is likely to refuse to testify or provide other information on the basis of his privilege against self-incrimination.

(c)  Order to testify.--Whenever a witness refuses, on the basis of his privilege against self-incrimination, to testify or provide other information in a proceeding specified in subsection (a), and the person presiding at such proceeding communicates to the witness an immunity order, that witness may not refuse to testify based on his privilege against self-incrimination.

(d)  Limitation on use.--No testimony or other information compelled under an immunity order, or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information, may be used against a witness in any criminal case, except that such information may be used:

(1)  in a prosecution under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4902 (relating to perjury) or under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4903 (relating to false swearing);

(2)  in a contempt proceeding for failure to comply with an immunity order; or

(3)  as evidence, where otherwise admissible, in any proceeding where the witness is not a criminal defendant.

(e)  Civil contempt.--Any person who shall fail to comply with an immunity order may be adjudged in civil contempt and committed to the county jail until such time as he purges himself of contempt by complying with the order, except that with regard to proceedings before grand juries or investigating grand juries, if the grand jury before which a person has been ordered to testify has been dissolved, he may then purge himself of contempt by complying before the designated court which issued the order.

(f)  Criminal contempt.--In addition to civil contempt as provided in subsection (e), any person who shall fail to comply with an immunity order shall be guilty of criminal contempt, and upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 or to undergo imprisonment for a period of not more than one year, or both.

(g)  Definitions.--The following words and phrases when used in this section shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Designated court."

(1)  In the case of proceedings before courts, countywide grand juries, countywide investigating grand juries, the minor judiciary or coroners: the court of common pleas of the judicial district in which the proceeding is taking place.

(2)  In the case of proceedings before multicounty investigating grand juries: the judge of the court of common pleas designated as supervising judge of that grand jury.

"Immunity order."  An order issued under this section by a designated court, directing a witness to testify or produce other information over a claim of privilege against self-incrimination.


(Apr. 28, 1978, P.L.202, No.53, eff. 60 days; Oct. 4, 1978, P.L.873, No.168, eff. 60 days; Oct. 5, 1980, P.L.693, No.142, eff. 60 days)


Cross References.  Section 5947 is referred to in section 911 of Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses).