The Use of “Confidential Informants” in Michigan
February 15, 2016
by The Law Office of Steven L. Schwartz
In their attempt to apprehend wrongdoers, police will sometimes employ the use of confidential informants, or “CIs” as they are often called. Confidential informants are, by definition, anonymous. They are citizens who choose to help police by giving them information about either recent events or upcoming events. Of course, since they are confidential and cannot be brought into court, the veracity, or truthfulness, of the information confidential informants provide is always a concern.
Confidential informants are used by police in a number of different ways. In some cases, a police officer will develop a relationship with someone they encounter while conducting surveillance of a neighborhood or investigating a crime. Other times, an officer will arrest someone, and that person will make a deal to provide the officer with information in exchange for leniency.
The information a confidential informant provides is viewed with skepticism by the courts for several reasons. First, the fact that they are unavailable for cross-examination makes their use a potential denial of a defendant’s right to confront witnesses. Similarly, the information that an informant provides may be motivated by bias. For example, an informant may be a low-level dealer who provides information about a rival in hopes of getting them taken off the street. Because of these concerns, courts require that police take certain steps when using a confidential informant.
Generally speaking, before a police officer makes an arrest based on information from a confidential informant, they must observe some kind of activity that corroborates the informant’s information. Police must have a firm basis to believe that the confidential informant actually possesses the knowledge he or she claims to have and is also being truthful. It is not enough that the informant’s tip ends up being true after police act on it. There must be some corroboration beforehand. In some cases, courts will invalidate an arrest because it was based on a lack of probable cause or reasonable suspicion when police improperly use a confidential informant.
Informant’s Tip Leads Police to Marijuana Grow Operation
Earlier last month, a tip from a “reliable” source led to one man’s arrest after police discovered a marijuana grow operation. According to one local news source, police seized 20 pounds of marijuana as well as 72 plants. The estimated street value of the marijuana seized was $70,000.
The man who was residing at the home was arrested and charged with felony drug charges. Police believe that others are involved, and the investigation is ongoing.
Have You Recently Been Arrested on Michigan Drug Charges?
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested on Michigan felony drug charges, you should act immediately to secure dedicated defense counsel. With counsel’s assistance, you may be able to suppress any evidence or statements that were made in response to an illegal arrest. Additionally, if police acted hastily on information provided through a questionable source, your arrest as well as the evidence seized may be suppressible. Call the Law Office of Steven Schwartz today at (248) 266-8720 to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.
- “Drug Ring” in Bust in Detroit’s East Side Results in 24 Arrests, Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published August 31, 2015.
- Man Drives into Lake Michigan, Charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published September 15, 2015.