Maybe. I know that’s almost the worst answer to hear when your back is against the wall on serious drug charges. But technical legal rules impact your rights here—that’s why you need a technician to help you.
Here are the basics:
When Disclosure Is Usually Required
The State must often reveal the identity of the police informant when the informant:
- Actively participated in the drug sale for which the suspect got charged.
- Set up the police drug sale.
- Introduced police to the suspect.
- Is a material witness to the drug crime, like when he’s the only other witness to it other than the buyer and the suspect.
NOTE: There are exceptions. Disclosure isn’t always required here. If other factors or circumstances justify denying disclosure, the judge can keep the informant’s identity from you.
When Disclosure Isn’t Required
Courts won’t force the State to give up its informant when the informant is:
- Merely a tipster who gave a lead to law enforcement. That can mean the informant just called to tell police about seeing the suspect with drugs, instead of actively participating in a police set-up to buy from the suspect.
- A relatively unimportant witness who has little direct knowledge of the crime.
For example, in 1996, the South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld not disclosing the identity of an informant who sat in the car during a drug buy orchestrated by police. The Court ruled against disclosure because the informant:
- Took no part in the drug deal,
- Had no part in setting it up,
- Never came near the suspect charged with selling the drugs,
- Never described the suspect to authorities,
- Never identified the suspect as selling drugs,
- And wasn’t the only other witness to the drug sale aside from the buyer and the defendant.
Give Yourself the Best Shot at Full Disclosure
Prosecutors don’t give up their sources without a fight. But it’s your freedom at stake, so you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to convince a judge to provide the informant’s identity. Because if you can’t take on your real accuser in court, you may just be fighting in the dark. That doesn’t end well.
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