A confidential informant used in a narcotics case is supposed to provide concrete and reliable evidence against someone conducting illegal activity with narcotics. Using an informant is a risk that can be helpful or detrimental to a narcotics arrest, and its success is contingent upon confidential informant narcotic arrest procedures being followed. Keeping close tabs on the informant is essential to the investigation.
The Importance of Following the Confidential Informant Narcotic Arrest Procedures
An informant is an integral part of a narcotics arrest. However, if proper narcotic arrest procedures are not followed, than the case can be thrown out no matter how much evidence is obtained.
The Identity of the Confidential Informant
Law enforcement should not reveal the identity of the informant to anyone to protect the informant from harm. A prosecutor might not know the informant's identity. However, under certain circumstances, the informant's identity can be revealed if a judge or magistrate orders it.
According to the informant manual for the city of Los Angeles, California, a confidential informant who has come into contact with narcotics through a purchase, assisting officers in a narcotics operation or any other reason, shall immediately be searched for narcotics once the operation has been completed, and the results of the search shall be documented in writing. An informant must provide law enforcement reliable information that can be corroborated by another witness. The informant should provide law enforcement with eyewitness accounts of any drug-related criminal acts, vital background information on the suspects and their narcotic criminal activity and contacts, critical intelligence to help support the investigation in obtaining a search warrant, the identity of valuable witnesses or leads that will cooperate and important testimony during trial, which will help the prosecution convict those arrested. The informant should provide accurate and complete information, keep all intelligence gathered confidential, never discuss any part of the investigation with anyone, never pursue suspects through entrapment, must be a law-abiding citizen (if the informant is a criminal once retained, they must immediately cease and desist any criminal activity), never violate the rights of any subject of the investigation and never place themselves or anyone else in harm's way. The prosecutor should always have an additional person present whenever meeting with a confidential informant. The prosecutor should review any findings provided by the informant with law enforcement to determine whether the information provided can be relied on, whether the informant has the means to provide critical information relevant to the narcotics investigation, whether promises were made to the informant by law enforcement or the prosecutor and whether their background includes criminal activity.