A confidential informant, who may sometimes be referred to as a “criminal informant,” is an individual who pretends to engage in crime for purposes of furnishing information to law enforcement during the course of an investigation. In most cases, people act as confidential informants so they can obtain a lighter sentence for their own past criminal conduct.
Confidential informants are a popular law enforcement tool in large drug cases, where police often need an insider to help them track down the source of drugs in a community. They might use an informant or several informants to bust up a drug trafficking or manufacturing enterprise.
Police typically use a confidential informant when they are unable to get information through other means. If you’re offered a deal to act as a confidential informant, you might feel compelled to jump at the chance of having your sentence reduced.
However, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into before you decide to act as a confidential informant. This is why it’s in your best interest to discuss your case with an experienced Texas drug crimes lawyer like Attorney John Helms before you make a decision about acting as a confidential informant.
If you’re on the fence about whether it’s a good idea to act as a confidential informant to reduce your drug charges in Dallas, your lawyer can help you understand what you’re agreeing to, as well as what you will be getting in exchange for assisting the police.
What to Consider When Deciding to Become a Confidential Informant
Being charged with a drug-related crime can be overwhelming and frightening. Understandably, many people are eager to accept a deal that involves acting as a confidential informant in exchange for securing a more lenient sentence or a clean criminal record.
Before you agree to act as a confidential informant, however, it’s critical to weigh the benefits and possible risks of participating in a police investigation or sting.
First, keep in mind that the police may tell you that you can get probation in exchange for your agreement to act as a confidential informant. Remember, though, that the police do not get to decide what your sentence will be, and be sure to talk to a lawyer about the sentence you’re likely to receive should you do not agree to be an informant, because it may be likely that you would get probation anyway.
This step is important, because many first-time drug possession offenses usually result in probation rather than jail time, which means acting as an informant may not offer you any additional benefits.
However, if you have previous drug convictions, it might make sense to agree to assist with a police investigation as an informant. In many cases, acting as an informant may put you at risk in some way. Before putting yourself at risk, make sure that you’re making an informed decision and receiving a real benefit in return. Do not assume law enforcement represents your best interests. They do not. To protect yourself, you need to hire a lawyer who represents YOUR interests.
What to Expect as a Confidential Informant
If you decide to become a confidential informant, you should also find out in advance what the police will require of you in your role. You will also want to know how long police will require your help.
For example, will the police expect you to assist them in a single investigation? Or will your role as a confidential informant be an ongoing process that unfolds over the course of several investigations?
Every confidential informant deal is different, and it’s important to know what kind of activities the police will expect of you. Your lawyer can help you pinpoint exactly what your role and requirements will be, including determining if you will be expected to testify in court, and whether police will do their best to conceal your identity.
In addition to understanding what will be expected of you, it’s also important to know if there will be any restrictions on your conduct and behavior. For example, will you be prohibited from engaging in certain activities? Will your role as an informant take you away from your family or your job?
If you agree to play a role, the police may need you to be available at certain hours, and it may require you to participate in activities that could possibly put you in harm’s way at times. You need to be comfortable with your assignments and know the risks before you agree to participate.
Additionally, your agreement will likely come with the stipulation that you won’t commit any other crimes while you’re acting as a confidential informant. This distinction means you will need to refrain from using illegal substances.
If you struggle with drug addiction, it might be unhealthy to agree to act as an informant if you know that being in close proximity to drugs could possibly derail your commitment to getting treatment for your addiction.
Work with an Experienced Texas Drug Crimes Lawyer
An experienced Texas drug crimes lawyer can explain how a confidential informant agreement works and whether this type of deal makes sense in your case. It’s a big undertaking to agree to participate in a police investigation.
A knowledgeable Texas criminal defense lawyer like attorney John Helms in Dallas, TX can give you peace of mind about your decision to act as an informant in a drug case.
Attorney John Helms
T: (214) 666-8010