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Court Rules Police Promise of Immunity in Exchange for Information Is Worthless


April 1995

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 23, 1995 that police cannot promise a defendant that he will not be prosecuted in exchange for information because the police do not have the power to prosecute (Commonwealth (Pennsylvania) v. Stipetich, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, No. 57 W.D., 652 Atl. 2d 1294; "Police Overstepped Authority With Non-Prosecution Pact," Drug Enforcement Report, p. 8).

Police found drugs during a lawful search of George and Heidi Stipetich's home. Officers said that if the couple provided information about where they obtained the drugs, no possession charges would be filed. Despite the promise, charges were later filed by the district attorney.

Two lower courts dismissed the charges against the couple, citing the non-prosecution pact. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying that individual officers do not have the power to control the actions of the district attorney.