(How to) Find out who's a Snitch
Confidential informants are crucial to many law enforcement investigations and are especially essential in the field of narcotics investigations. Informants can provide specific information that is simply not available from other sources.
However, the informants are often criminals themselves; if not properly managed, they can render a law enforcement investigation useless, destroy an agency’s credibility, and even endanger officers’ lives.
Narcotics investigations often use confidential informants to lead investigators to their key targets; they are the insiders to the drug world and have the ability to go places and speak with people inaccessible to the police. Informants work within an illegal enterprise system and therefore are for the most part involved in illegal activities.
At times, drug investigators work with and befriend drug users, prostitutes, burglars, and con artists in order to reach the desired outcome—to get the worst of the worst off the streets. Narcotics investigators have to maintain a sort of temporary, fictitious friendship with informants knowing that their only goal is to obtain valuable information.
There are two opportunities to find out the identity of a confidential informant: before and during trial. If a defendant doesn’t ask for disclosure of the identity at one of these two times, then the issue is waived (meaning that the defendant can’t find out the identity later).
It can be an uphill battle to learn the identity of a confidential informant, but discovering it can also be crucial to a defendant’s ability to mount an adequate defense. In addition, if a court orders disclosure and a witness refuses to name the confidential informant, then the court may strike the testimony of that witness or dismiss the case, so it’s worth the effort to try and find out who the confidential informant is.
The government has an interest in not giving up the identity of a confidential informant to a defendant or anyone else. After all, a CI is someone who came to the police voluntarily and doesn’t wish to be identified, often because of a fear of retaliation.
In a criminal case, the prosecution must disclose information that forms the basis of its case. This process is called discovery. A defendant is entitled to the names and statements of the witnesses that the prosecution plans to call, as well as a list of physical evidence and documents. The prosecution must also disclose any deal it has offered to a witness in exchange for testifying. While normally prosecutors have to disclose all witnesses who are relevant to the case whether or not those witnesses will testify, they often don’t have to reveal the identity of confidential informants (CIs).
There are two types of informants: (1) private citizens who, by chance, happen to witness a crime, and (2) police informants who, in essence, work as agents for the police or other law enforcement agencies.
Information and testimony provided by informants is not only used to obtain search warrants but is also used in a variety of criminal proceedings such as pretrial hearings and actual trials.
Who’s a Rat?
The confidentiality of informants is of primary concern in law enforcement operations. Informant identities must remain undisclosed to protect them and to preserve the service they provide. However, a Web site called Who’s a Rat?
(whosarat.com) reveals identities of informants and their law enforcement agents. Through the site’s database, visitors can contribute information about local police, federal agents, and police informants. According to an Austin Chronicle article, the site’s founder, Sean Bucci, said, “Every month, nearly 100,000 Americans are arrested on drug charges. . . . [I]nformants . . .often tell outright lies in an effort to get their own criminal charges or sentences reduced.” A contributor to the Web site, Brian Drake, commented, “If the state is going to have databases on us, it seems only fair that we can have a database of agents and informers as a tool for defense attorneys and defendants.”
Daz Dillinger, a member of Tha Dogg Pound and a former Death Row Records artist, recently made clear his thoughts about Suge Knight and claims he is a "police informant."
Dillinger took to Instagram to voice his opinion saying, "Look how this nigga Suge Knight is walking up and the police is shaking his hand. Does that look like a police informant to you?" The video, which has since been removed from his account, also had a caption reading, "POLICE INFORMAT AFTER A MURDER LOL."
Suge Knight was recently made a suspected party and later arrested for murder in a fatal hit-and-run that left Carter dead and another person injured. Knight was in an altercation with two men on the set of a film project that took place on the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue prior to the incident.
1People v. Aguilar, (1966) 240 Cal.App.2d 502, 508 ("In Aguilar v. Texas, supra (1964) 378 U.S. 108, 114 [84 S.Ct. 1509, 1514, 12 L.Ed.2d 723, 729], the United States Supreme Court said: "Although an affidavit may be based on hearsay information and need not reflect the direct personal observations of the affiant, the magistrate must be informed of some of the underlying circumstances from which the informant concluded that the narcotics were where he claimed they were, ..." . And in United States v. Ventresca, supra (1965) 380 U.S. 102, 108 [85 S.Ct. 741, 746, 13 L.Ed.2d 684, 689], the court repeated that same admonition, saying: "This is not to say that probable cause can be made out by affidavits which are purely conclusory, stating only the affiant's or an informer's belief that probable cause exists without detailing any of the 'underlying circumstances' upon which that belief is based. Recital of some of the underlying circumstances in the affidavit is essential if the magistrate is to perform his detached function and not serve merely as a rubber stamp for the police.
See U.S. Department of Justice, The Attorney General’s Guidelines regarding the Use of Confidential Informants, May 30, 2002, www.usdoj.gov/olp/dojguidelines.pdf#search=confidential%20informants,
May 3, 2007; see also Office of the Inspector General, “The Attorney General’s Guidelines regarding the Use of Confidential Informants,” chap. 3 in The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Compliance with the Attorney General’s Investigative Guidelines (Redacted), special report, September 2005, www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/0509/chapter3.htm,
FREE EBook Rats! Your guide to protecting yourself against snitches, informers, informants, agents provocateurs, narcs, finks, and similar vermin.
By Claire Wolfe
I understand that prosecutors need to encourage snitches to snitch, but these sentences simply cannot be reconciled with fairness, and they create overwhelming incentives for snitches to fabricate evidence against superiors, which is exactly what happened in this case,
The federal government makes a living off tapes and snitches. It's absolutely standard operating procedure.
Should We Trust Police Officers?
Are police officers allowed to lie to you? Yes the Supreme Court has ruled that police officers can lie to the American people. Police officers are trained at lying, twisting words and being manipulative. Police officers and other law enforcement agents are very skilled at getting information from people. So don’t try to “out smart” a police officer and don’t try being a “smooth talker” because you will lose! If you can keep your mouth shut, you just might come out ahead more than you expected.