This is the next post in our series on the use of confidential informants by Little Rock, Arkansas law enforcement officers. Our last article provided an overview of topics this series will be discussing and stressed the need to speak with a criminal defense attorney if you or a loved one have been arrested. Speaking with counsel immediately will help you to ensure that your rights are fully protected. In this article we will discuss the situations under which police may use a CI as part of their investigation or in their applying for an arrest warrant. Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
We have previously discussed challenging the use of confidential informants in drug trafficking cases. Many of the concepts we discussed in that article apply to other types of cases. It is important to understand that law enforcement officials cannot simply take a CI at their word. For an officer to base an arrest or search upon the word of an informant the person providing the information must show that they are reliable. Courts will typically find a CI to have been a reliable source of information if the individual has a history of providing accurate information to officers or if surrounding circumstances give the officers extra reason to believe the person can be trusted. Also, police must have taken steps to verify the reliability of the informant. These steps should include understanding the informant’s criminal history, verifying their identity, etc. If officers cannot demonstrate reliability and that the individual has been vetted then a Court would likely find that the informant was unreliable.
There are legal consequences to a Court finding that an informant was not reliable. This is due to the fact that police officers and other law enforcement officials often use information provided by an informant as the basis for a search warrant or arrest warrant. If a warrant is based on unreliable information then it is possible to challenge the warrant in Court (an issue we will discuss further in our next post). It is important to understand, however, that the issuance of a warrant may be upheld if it contained information other than the informant’s statements and that information, by itself, would have supported issuing the warrant. In other words, if the police had enough information to get a warrant even without using the confidential informant then the fact that the CI was unreliable will not make a difference.
There are many instances in which law enforcement may have information that justifies an arrest even after a CI is found to be unreliable. Such evidence may include eyewitness testimony, fingerprint records, security footage, and more. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you to understand whether a) the use of a CI was proper and b) whether the arrest can be challenged. It is crucial that you hire counsel who is familiar with handling such issues.
Our Little Rock lawyers have over twenty-five years of combined experience in handling criminal cases. We are familiar with the process involved in challenging a CI and are ready to assist you. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. In addition to Little Rock, we also handle matters in Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.