A confidential informant is used by law enforcement to prosecute defendants when police are unable to secure probable cause for an arrest without the testimony from someone who has directly dealt with the defendant. Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys find that most major conspiracy and trafficking cases will have one or more confidential informants as witnesses. These witnesses will testify that they bought drugs from the defendant at grand jury proceedings and at trials.
|Manet, Bar at Folies-Bergere, 1882|
Ideally the police wire the confidential informant, listen as a drug deal is consummated and arrive at the nick of time before the confidential informant becomes a grim statistic.
Unfortunately law enforcement are recklessly using young defendants as confidential informers in significant drug deals as detailed in this recent heartbreaking New Yorker article about young people haplessly murdered while under the protection of police as they tried to work off minor drug charges. In one case that took place in Florida the police gave a young confidential informant $13,000 in cash to buy drugs and a gun from the target. She was murdered instead. Why did officers want her to buy drugs and a gun? Because the weapons and firearms count against the target would add an additional five years to the sentence, yet clearly adding a weapon to the mix increased the risks the CI faced and may have even tipped off the target that something was odd.
Sometimes the overzealous police officers fail to properly take into account the age and sophistication of the confidential informant nor to adequately appraise the confidential informant as to the actual risks inherent in co-operating. Officers use the threat of harsh Florida drug sentencing laws and mimimum mandatory drug sentences to frighten young people into co-operating.
In Florida law under Rachel’s Law, named for a young lady whose life was cut short while working as a confidential informant, law enforcement officers must have special training, must tell potential confidential informants that even with the co-operation their sentence may not be reduced and must allow the confidential informant to contact Clearwater Criminal Lawyers before agreeing to co-operate.