They say that crime doesn’t pay, but when it comes to confidential informants it does. Confidential informants are not employed by law enforcement, but they are paid. A confidential informant is a citizen that is paid by law enforcement to help make cases against other citizens.
Confidential informants are often criminals themselves that have gotten in trouble with the law and are looking to get themselves back out of trouble by helping law enforcement to catch “bigger fish.”
There are many legal and ethical challenges when informants are used.
“Outrageous government conduct and entrapment”
The use of confidential informants is a time-honored practice and it’s not illegal — unless it exceeds certain boundaries.
When law enforcement and confidential informants go too far it can be considered outrageous government conduct and entrapment. Outrageous government conduct, or entrapment, is very difficult to establish in court because of the long-standing practice of using confidential informants. Confidential informants can encourage a criminal to continue breaking the law, repeat illegal activities or even expand their criminal enterprise. This is not entrapment.
To qualify to have charges dismissed, the confidential informant or their government handlers must have stepped over legal lines. A defendant who claims to be a victim of entrapment must produce evidence showing that his actions were caused or induced by law enforcement officials or informants in some way — not something they would have done on their own. In other words, they must demonstrate that they had no predisposition to commit the crime without the encouragement of a confidential informant.
It can be a challenge to build a solid defense when a drug case involves a confidential informant. Understanding your defense options and your challenges is key to a better outcome for your case.