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  1. #1
    camkid396 is offline Junior Member
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    When is being a confidential informant the right thing to do?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? CA Here is the situation. I work in a dinner house. A year ago after a breakup my then boyfriend took a ring my mother gave me. The police couldn’t do anything to return it, my word against his etc. So I tried to recover it and yup you guessed it I was arrested and a week ago I was convicted for breaking entering, got probation and fined. I’m not here to bellyache about it. Yesterday out of the blue I get a call from a detective asking me if I would like my recent conviction to go away. I laughed and said sure you have a magic wand? He said do you still work at the so and so restaurant? I said yes. He said they need my help on a drug case involving a coworker. I knew immediately who they were referring to; nothing is sacred in a restaurant bar. Although we’re not personal outside the workplace he is a likeable guy and I don’t think he is some dangerous gun toting drug dealer. I have never witnessed him engage in any illegal activity but its pretty common knowledge that he sells pot on the side. A few months ago the police kicked in his door and leveled a shot gun at his handicapped mother and tried to pull her on to the floor and destroyed their home and all they got was a few ounces and few hundred dollars. He was just telling everyone around the bar at closing that his lawyer was getting the case thrown out because the detective lied on the warrant, something about a controlled buy that took place at his house and he says it’s a total fabrication which would explain why this detective is so desperate. I’m not condoning selling pot and I believe that most people in law enforcement are dedicated and deserve our respect. However in this particular case even though the detective is trying to catch the bad guys does the end justify the means? If indeed the detective lied to get the warrant and kicked in the door with guns blazing putting everyone at risk etc, I maybe wrong that’s why I’m here but from where I’m standing doesn’t he pose more of a threat to society than the drug dealer? If I was in a unique position to help police get a dangerous felon off the streets I’d like to think I would do so without compensation but my gut feeling is telling me this isn’t something I should get involved in. I didn’t know what to do so I asked for some time to think about it. I only have till Tuesday and he said I can’t discuss this anyone connected but I need some input I hope someone can help me make the right decision. I have few questions.
    1. Does a detective have the power to make a finished case disappear? I thought only the DA had the power to make deals.
    2. What happens if I fail to get what they need? I’m not a customer if he suspects I’m a narc I could do more harm than good especially to myself. I don’t see how my identity could be protected.
    3. I understand that deals are made with people who have broken the law in return to catch a bigger fish but is it the right thing to do? It sure doesn’t feel like it. Has anyone here got any advice or knowledge to share?
    Thanks:confused
  2. #2
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    This is a deeply personal decision.

    No, I don't know of any power a detective has to renig on existing convictions. If it were charges they were sitting on, it would certainly be their decision to pass it on to the DA or not, but even then trust would be suspect and they'd own you forever.

    I probably wouldn't do it, speaking for myself only.
  3. #3
    CavemanLawyer is offline Senior Member
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    Usually you become a confidential informant before being convicted, and usually its before even being charged. If you plead only a week ago though, a motion for new trial can be filed and the DA's office can agree to it. The conviction will go away and the case will be "brought back to life" and they will just dismiss it. Its not uncommon for local police agencies to work with the DA's office on a particular case to secure a confidential informant. Sometimes the police make the deal prior to referring charges to the DA's office, sometimes the DA's office makes a plea deal after filing charges, and sometimes they work together which is what this detective seems to be trying to do.

    You seem to believe that this detective is corrupt and busting down doors and breaking the law himself, but you also say that you are getting all of this information from this admitted drug dealer. How do you know he isn't lying? You should get the name of the detective and confirm that he actually works for the agency he says he does. There is also no real harm in going to meet with him to look at the contract that you'd have to sign to be a confidential informant. As long as you know you haven't done any other crimes that he might be investigating YOU for, there really is no legal risk since you've already plead to your charges. Even if you blatantly break the contract, they can't punish you anymore because you have already plead.

    In my opinion the only real concern is for your safety. When you are a CI your identity is indeed withheld in the criminal case and it can only be disclosed to the defense if they meet certain requirements and it is a very high burden to meet. It will be known to this drug dealer that a CI was used however, and he will surely wonder which one of his supposed friends turned on him. It is definitely a possibility that he will find out its you so you need to decide whether that is a risk you are willing to take to regain your clean criminal record.
  4. #4
    outonbail is offline Senior Member
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    I wouldn't personally get involved in all this CI nonsense. If the guy this detective wants is some big fish drug dealer they should be able to catch him without having to endanger you to do it.

    What would you do if a couple weeks down the road, after you've helped the officer nail this guy, the officer asks you to help him with another situation by making a buy or whatever else he needs a CI to do?
    Do you think it's possible that if you were to say no more, the officer would then tell you that he can't guarantee your anonymity if you refuse to help him again? In other words, do you want anyone having something like that to hang over your head whenever they feel like forcing you to do something?

    The CI is a dirty game. I'd advise avoiding it entirely!
  5. #5
    camkid396 is offline Junior Member
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    I just wanted to say Thank you so much for your time and valuable insite. I will think this through very carefully and make a list of questions to ask the detective. This is a very serious matter and not being able to have my friends and family to talk it over with makes it even more difficult, so my gratitude is genuine. I may need some things clarified but at this point I really don't feel this is something I will feel proud of down the line. At the end of the day I need to like that person in the mirror. I'll let you know what happens.
    Thanks Again
  6. #6
    las365 is offline Senior Member
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    Were you represented by an attorney in your criminal case? If so was it a public defender or a private attorney? I don't know much about the criminal system, but am assuming that a public defender would not be able to get re-involved at this point.

    I am saying all of that to say that if I were you, I would want to have my attorney present at any and all information / negotiation sessions with this detective. This situation sounds a little odd to me, but again, I do not know the world of criminal law.
  7. #7
    outonbail is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by camkid396 View Post
    I just wanted to say Thank you so much for your time and valuable insite. I will think this through very carefully and make a list of questions to ask the detective. This is a very serious matter and not being able to have my friends and family to talk it over with makes it even more difficult, so my gratitude is genuine. I may need some things clarified but at this point I really don't feel this is something I will feel proud of down the line. At the end of the day I need to like that person in the mirror. I'll let you know what happens.
    Thanks Again
    A couple additional points you should consider.
    First, you should consider the word "Confidential" as an illusion. In this day and age, I wouldn't bank on anything being "Confidential".

    Next, I would suggest that you either give some serious consideration to the situation and tell no one that the situation exists, or you don't give any consideration to it at all and you tell whoever you want about the offer being presented to you. Heck, you can even post it on line if you wish.

    I know this advice comes a little late, however, now that you have posted the fact that you are considering this "confidential" arrangement, it is hardly confidential anymore.

    It's a very small world, computers are as common as color TV's. Everyone has access to the Internet, or knows someone who does.
    The information you have posted will eliminate any possibility that your informant status, if it materializes, can be confidential.

    Just some food for thought. Or in this case, some spoiled food for thought,,,,
  8. #8
    eap53 is offline Junior Member
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    Hopefully you've been able to sort your feelings, but in case you are still struggling, I'll throw my $0.02 into the mix, too. First, I want to make clear that I'm not a lawyer. Seeking counsel would probably be a wise decision. Many places offer a free initial consultation, and you'll likely be able to get a better idea of things from speaking to a real lawyer (or 2 or 3...).

    Things you'll likely want to consider (and probably already have):

    - The job - you guys currently work together, and you'll likely still have to work with him following an arrest/until he's sentenced. Possibly after the sentencing, too, depending on the charges and sentence. When he's already opening sharing other 'developments' (for lack of better word) within any sort of a case against him already with everyone, I would guess that he'll likely share future 'developments' (again...) with co-workers, too - so make sure you're prepared to be around when this is occurring, or that you're prepared to find another job if you'd rather avoid him at work. If you switch to a new job and attempt to avoid him in the future, it could make you appear as the CI - especially if he knows that there was a CI. As mentioned by "outonbail," I would guess that odds are pretty good that he'll be able to figure out who it was that 'flipped' on him - if you decide that it's something you want to do, make sure you're okay with him thinking/figuring out it was you.

    - Your duties as a CI - If you can figure these out in advance, all the better - would it be limited to telling the things he's mentioned at work, or would it involve making a purchase? If it involves making a purchase, ask yourself if that's something you're willing to do. If you have bought pot previously (if you have, it doesn't sound like you have from him - "never witnessed him engage in any illegal activity"), would you be comfortable buying it from him? Are you prepared to potentially smoke with him if/when/before you make a purchase?

    - Pot - The media makes it sound as though it's pretty common in CA, and a lot of people that choose to participate likely do so responsibly (or as responsibly as an illegal drug can be...). However, there are also people that make poor decisions regarding it's use. He cannot ensure that the pot he is selling is being used responsibly - his 'customers' could be smoking and driving, endangering you, your family, and others, on the road. (I realize that there are 2 sides to every argument, but I've witnessed [as I'm sure others have too] people that are simply too impaired to drive as a result of pot smoking). One less gram (and there are 28.5 in an ounce) being sold is one less joint that someone can smoke before/while driving.

    - Your record - From the other posts, it sounds like the breaking & entering would be the only thing that could be taken off - if that's the only thing on your record, it could be worth it - however, if your record is tarnished from other past crimes, whether or not the breaking & entering is on it could be irrelevant. From what I was briefly able to find online, it sounds like breaking & entering is a felony - if it is in fact a felony charge, you'll want to see what the implications could be for you in the future - employment, voting, right to bear arms, etc, and weigh how much those rights (or lack thereof) are worth to you, and compare those to the possible consequences of becoming an informant.

    - Your co-worker's story - When serving a warrant, I believe that the police must first knock on the door, and announce that it's the police & they have a warrant, and there's a certain amount of time that they have to wait until they can break the door in, etc. If his mother was home, handicapped or not, and there are police knocking/yelling at the door, if she were to respond, even by saying, "just a minute, I'm coming, I'm handicapped, I can only go so fast," there should be no reason to kick open a door. If the door was kicked open, I would assume that there is more to the story that your co-worker isn't sharing. Further, if he knows that he is under investigation, and he's continuing to sell, he has no one to blame but himself for his stupidity. Unfortunately, he'll likely want to blame someone else ("well, if ____ hadn't flipped on me, I wouldn't have been arrested," when in reality, if he hadn't of been selling drugs, he wouldn't have been arrested) rather than accepting guilt/taking responsibility for his actions/decisions.


    Without knowing any further details, if I were in your situation, I'd want to meet with the detective (as CavemanLawyer mentioned) to get some things cleared up, including the duties of the role of informant, and how much will be expected of me in order to get my charges cleared. Assuming that my role would be for this case (your co-worker's) only, I would probably go ahead with being an informant in order to get my record cleared, but I would want to have as much information as possible, in writing, before I committed to anything.

    Good luck with your decision - it's a tough one!
  9. #9
    camkid396 is offline Junior Member
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    You all have been so incredibly supportive and I appreciate the time and knowledge youíve given me. I apologize I said I was convicted of B&E I was arrested for B&E and it was reduced to second degree burglary misdemeanor, first offense . My lawyer was able to convey to the DA I was only after my ring and they gave me a break. I think that the police may have been looking at me as someone who owes something back and maybe I do. I have to be careful I have a tendency to take guilt on easily but I also hate injustice and abuse of power. I believe knowledge is power if you know the rules and how to play and sometimes more importantly how to know when you are playing with a cheater I believe itís possible to prevent being victimized by goliath at least Iíd like to try hold on to that thinking.
    I met with the detective I donít think itís in my best interest to go into to much detail. Itís already been pointed out that my identity even in this setting is far from protected but itís too late now.
    So Iíll put it this way, after I stating my concerns about my ability to be a CI I thought it wise to say if I became privy to any first hand knowledge of illegal activities and I felt secure that I could pass it on I would do so free of charge. This may have been a mistake but my goal was to get out of this situation without having them mad at me. You canít believe some of the tactics. There was a comment made here that I should try to determine the truthfulness of either party in the case. Iíll let you draw your own conclusions from the following. If someone said in a very carefully constructed manner just vague enough for deniability ďWhat if you could help without direct contact only signing an affidavit and possibly appear before a judge behind closed doorsĒ This is when I made my offer and excused myself. I donít intend to discuss this with anyone unless it becomes in my best interest to do so. I gotta tell ya if down the line a lawsuit is filed I may be back to get your input on whether or not I should participate. I agree this is a bad bad business. Anyone reading this who finds themselves in a similar situation I hope this serves as a guide. I have spent a great deal of time reading at this forum in an effort to educate myself on procedures because I seem to have gone from one moral dilemma to another. I resolved that being CI was not for me but what do you do if you had information that could get a guilty person set free? Should I start a new thread? Lol good grief. Anyway Thanks
  10. #10
    CavemanLawyer is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by camkid396 View Post
    If someone said in a very carefully constructed manner just vague enough for deniability “What if you could help without direct contact only signing an affidavit and possibly appear before a judge behind closed doors” This is when I made my offer and excused myself.
    You should not read anything sinister or improper into that statement. That is exactly how the law intends for a CI to be used.

    A citizen CI usually is only used to gain probable cause for a search warrant or to introduce the suspect to an undercover police officer. That way the CI does not ever get involved in the actual crime that the person is charged with. Since they are not a witness to the crime, they do not have to testify against them and their identity is kept confidential in the criminal case.

    The officer obviously wants you to file an affadavit which will be sealed and used as probable cause for a search warrant. If the defense attempts to "burn the CI" and determine your identity legally, then you would be required to meet with the judge in chambers for what is called an in camera inspection. You'd basically testify to the judge and the judge would determine whether the testimony was necessary for trial, in which case your identity would be made known to the defense and you'd be called as a witness in the trial. The burden that the defense must meet to do this however is exceptionally high and as long as you didn't participate in the crime and were not present when the defendant was arrested, there is very little chance of your identity being disclosed. Though as I mentioned above, even if your name is kept out of the legal proceedings there is always the possibility that the individual would figure it out on their own just based on the fact that it'd have to be somebody close to him.

    Unless the detective put his pinky finger up to his mouth and giggled like Dr. Evil when he said that, he is just being honest and realistic about your involvement in the investigation. As far as them wanting to use you without any pre-arranged deal to benefit you, I'd find it incredibly hard to believe that this is what they asked of you. I have never heard of a CI being used without there being a formal written contract. I'm sure they intended to enter into a contract with you.
  11. #11
    enymeanie is offline Junior Member
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    confidential,never

    I spent the majority of summer being a snitch.....Here is my story.Feel free to call me a piece of crap.I was on probation in two different states for 5 yrs.each(concurrent)and catching 2 more felony charges one which holds up to 7 yrs. and the other up to 4 yrs.plus iId have to serve the initial 5 yrs. I am looking at 11-16 yrs.I wasn't given any promises or guaratees. I was only told that this would be a way for me to redeem myself,in the eyes of the court,and leniancy most likely will be given....That I could give back to the community...Turns out it made front page news "largest prescription drug seizure in the departments history totalling over $100,000.00 street value".The man who was in possession of these drugs has not been charged as of yet,he happens to be cooperating himself...No plea bargain has been offered to me as of yet.I go to pretrial in January.Am I presumptuous by thinking my charges should be dropped?That I have given back to the community?That I have redemmed myself?How much is enough?Is there a guide?The drug detectives said that I have done what is seen as substantial and in my "accomplishment" letter to the judge from the drug unit says just that..however it is up to the judge/prosecuter.My private attorney doesn't know why my charges have not been reduced or even dropped and has no anwers for me.Did I do this for nothing??
  12. #12
    enymeanie is offline Junior Member
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    I did

    Hey be sure to read my post.
  13. #13
    outonbail is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by enymeanie View Post
    I spent the majority of summer being a snitch.....Here is my story.Feel free to call me a piece of crap.
    I wouldn't want to insult crap,,,,,

    I was on probation in two different states for 5 yrs.each(concurrent)and catching 2 more felony charges one which holds up to 7 yrs. and the other up to 4 yrs.plus iId have to serve the initial 5 yrs. I am looking at 11-16 yrs.
    This is what happens when you're a slow learner and you continue to break laws and get arrested for drugs over and over. Sooner or later you're going to come before a judge that has heard enough of your excuses and false promises to get clean and lead a lawful life.

    I wasn't given any promises or guaratees. I was only told that this would be a way for me to redeem myself,in the eyes of the court,and leniancy most likely will be given....That I could give back to the community...Turns out it made front page news "largest prescription drug seizure in the departments history totalling over $100,000.00 street value".The man who was in possession of these drugs has not been charged as of yet,he happens to be cooperating himself.
    There are a lot of weak people in the drug scene who are afraid to take responsibility for their own actions. They just never learn before they finally realize that they are going to prison for along time. Then they cry and make a deal to act as an informant. Many of them are able to set other people who end up taking the fall for them even though the person they're setting up isn't as much of a user/dealer, if one at all. So the dirt bag criminal drug addict with nothing to lose remains free while the family man, who works for a living and may use recreational drugs on rare occasions, ends up being locked up, losing his home, family and job.
    It's a real nice way for the selfish drug addict criminal to continue to destroy lives.

    Personally I think it should be illegal for the police to accept the word and believe the claims of some low life drug addicted felon, who has nothing to lose and is willing to say/do anything as long as it's not them that goes to jail.
    Don't get me wrong, if someone approaches the police about drug activity because they are concerned about children who are being exposed, or their neighborhood is going to crap because of drugs, or they have a child they are trying to get into rehab etc., I believe they are doing themselves and the community a great service. It's just the drug addicts who have their back against the wall who shouldn't be used as an investigation tool. These people are the best liars on the planet, they are not going to change their colors they are just going to work the game a little different.
    They have helped to corrupt the way law enforcement does drug crime investigations and a lot of innocent people are being sucked up in the vortex of BS the informant game has created.
    Why bother with the boring old school surveillance technique when you can tell a judge that Cheech, claims Chong will have ten pounds of drugs tomorrow so they need a warrant immediately. They know which judge they have the best chance of getting to sign a warrant even though the application doesn't necessarily support it. If the informant has it out for someone and wants revenge, he can drop a sack in someone's car and send the police after the person like the police are his own pack of dogs.
    It's a dirty business on both sides of the fence.

    End of rant,,,

    ..No plea bargain has been offered to me as of yet.I go to pretrial in January.Am I presumptuous by thinking my charges should be dropped?That I have given back to the community?That I have redemmed myself?How much is enough?
    How would we know? You made the deal, so you should know who to ask.
    Is there a guide?
    Yeah right, like maybe a "Being an Informant for Dummies" kind of book.
    The drug detectives said that I have done what is seen as substantial and in my "accomplishment" letter to the judge from the drug unit says just that..however it is up to the judge/prosecuter.My private attorney doesn't know why my charges have not been reduced or even dropped and has no anwers for me.
    Did I do this for nothing??
    Possibly but who knows. Maybe they aren't done with you yet. If they believe they have a live one on the line, they may come up with more hoops for you to jump through. After all, they do have something they can hold over your head,,,,


    BTW, next time you have a legal question you would like to post, start your own thread OK.
  14. #14
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    First, the claims of an informant can almost never be used to support an affidavit of probable cause in support of an arrest or a search warrant. A confidential informant is but one tool that can be used when building a case, and - in my considerable experience - never the sole component of ANY investigation. A CI might get you in the door or give you some direction, but they are generally pretty useless as probable cause due to their own reliability issues. It takes a lot of work to make a CI into a legally "reliable" informant.

    As for the reasons why enymeanie may not have been given a deal yet is likely due to one of two issues ... one, he was involved in some additional criminal offenses that cannot be excused by the "agreement" made with the police or DA ... or, two, they are waiting to make the plea offer so that they can go to trial and honestly state that no plea deal has been offered in exchange for the witness's cooperation. If a plea was offered and accepted, the the other defendants can always argue that the CI is a liar, and he lied in order to get a deal ... if no deal is on the table, then making that argument becomes a tad more difficult.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  15. #15
    meangreen is offline Junior Member
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    Question I Was Asked To Become A informant

    I was charged with 3 count first degree trafficking controlled substance this my first drug offence, my ple bargain was 5years but i was told by KSP that if I helped them get 4 or 5 others that was selling pain pills & guns or meth that he could get my charges dropped well what he said was I'll be able to walk. Told Me they paid but I told him I wasn't gonna do it for money, I just wanted to be put on probation if I could That is was my reason if I did help.. That my girlfriend was bout to have my baby & I just wanted to Be With Her Have U guy ever heard of someone getting charges dropped for helping police get 4 to 5 more**************.....Please Need To Know Before Monday Today is saturday Im Meetin them monday to see if ill do it

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