In the State of Florida, a large number of drug trafficking cases are made with the assistance of confidential informants, or CIs. These informants provide information to law enforcement about drug sales and trafficking.
Police use informants because frankly, the informants can go places that undercover police officers cannot. Informants are usually working on "contracts," or working on behalf of the police in an effort to work off their own criminal charges. The contract work may actually be a condition of the informant's own probation.
Most of the time, the informant has agreed to work for the police in an effort to get their own sentence reduced.
The CI can have a variety of roles in the trafficking arrest process. They may simply provide information, which the police use to obtain a search warrant. The CI may be a vital part of the operation by actually setting up the alleged drug transaction.
A CI may set up a "controlled buy" where the CI, or some other law enforcement officer, poses as a drug buyer. During the preliminary process, the CI may assist law enforcement in setting up "controlled calls" whereby plans of the pending drug deal are discussed over the phone. The CI may be talking on the other end, pretending to be setting up the terms of a sale. Meanwhile, law enforcement is recording the entire conversation. This tape will be admissible as evidence against the suspected trafficker.
Trafficking arrests are what the police really want, but CIs can be used to set up the arrests of people suspected of possession with intent to sell. CIs can be used to arrest people for trafficking and sale of marijuana (grow houses), cocaine, ecstasy, oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), alprazolam (Xanax), and heroin - just to name a few.
So, the question remains - is this informant's identification really confidential?
Can a South Florida criminal defense attorney make the State of Florida reveal the identity of this CI?
If the CI's role in the arrest is so vital that it violates the constitutional rights of the accused not to disclose the identity, the defense attorney may be able to compel production of the CI's identity.
This presents a problem for the State (and one that benefits the accused). The State has an interest in preserving the secrecy of the CI's identity. This is because CIs are important to law enforcement officers, and they want to continue to use them time and time again.
If a CI's identity is revealed, then the CI can no longer be a CI as the whole world will know that they are working for the police.
So if the judge orders the State to produce the identity of the CI, the State may be very willing to resolve the case so that this disclosure does not occur. This may mean waiving a mandatory minimum sentence. This may mean offering probation when the State initially wanted prison time.
The Miami-Dade Police Department, the Broward Sheriff's Office, and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department all use CIs extensively during the course of their trafficking investigations. I deal with CIs all of the time in many of my trafficking matters.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a narcotics-related offense and their was a CI involved in the arrest, call me. You have many legal options available that may help you to fight these charges.