The decision to work as a confidential informant (CI), should not be taken lightly. There are very real personal and legal consequences that you must fully understand before any agreement is reached. Talk to your attorney first. Only then are you in the position to make an informed decision.
Expectations of a Confidential Informant
Having an attorney at the beginning of the process, if you decide to cooperate, is vital to giving you a clear understanding of what you must do. An attorney can establish clear limits and expectations of the agreement so you know when and where your cooperation has been completed. Too many times I have had clients come to me after they have began working for police and they don’t know what is expected of them or when it will end. They don’t know what benefit they are getting by cooperating.
Another important consideration is your testimony at trial. If you are part of a drug transaction and the person refuses to plead their case, you will be required to testify against them in open court. Many times this can happen one (1) or more years after the drug transaction has taken place and you think it is all behind you. Police will not tell you about this part of the agreement nor are they legally required too. This is vital to not only your cooperation but also to the benefit you received. For example if you worked off some charges then refuse to testify at trial the police will reinstate your charges and you are at the beginning again dealing with the same charges and putting yourself in harms way.
Misdemeanor arrest and no prior convictions
A growing number of low-level sellers and buyers are being asked to work for the police as confidential informants. From a law enforcement point of view they don’t necessarily think you are a major player but rather hope that you may lead to bigger fish up the food chain that will lead to a big bust for them. From the arrestee’s position this is the worst thing you can do. There are a number of alternate options available that may end without a conviction and you never have to put yourself in a dangerous position. Read about this practice and the real dangers involved.
What if I refuse to testify in court?
If you fail to live up to your promise with the police they are more than likely to reinstate your charge(s) and prosecute you again. Your failure to cooperate will certainly be communicated to the prosecutor and now you have acted as a snitch, and have a conviction. That’s why you need to talk to your attorney and be aware of all the benefits and risks with acting as a confidential informant.
What about the dangers?
Many times the police and prosecutors will not bring up this subject. To be fair, they are not required too but that is why you need to have an experienced criminal defense attorney from the beginning so you understand the pitfalls of this agreement. Once the cases or cases are over that does not mean that you are out of danger. Retaliation is a reality in this business and it is a factor that must be considered before you make any decision about working as a confidential informant because if the case goes to trial you r confidential status will be revealed to the defendant and anyone in the courtroom so you anonymity will only last so long.
Criminal Defense Attorney Charleston, SC
If you have been charged with drug crime and the police have asked you about acting as a confidential informant contact an experienced and trusted criminal defense lawyer Charleston, SC at the Dale Savage Law Firm today for a free case consultation (843) 530-7813.