A common component in many drug cases: the informant

According to an Athens news story, police and prosecutors in Northeast Georgia routinely use informants to aid in their investigations of lower-level drug possession and dealing cases, although they “are reluctant to discuss their use of informants to make criminal cases.”

One former assistant district attorney who is now a public defender calls the use of “snitches” a “necessary evil” that enables authorities in some instances to more easily locate, arrest and charge dealers on drug trafficking charges of marijuana and crack cocaine.

One material problem is closely associated with that, the ex-prosecutor says, namely, that the veracity of what an informant says or reveals is often not open to testing by a defendant’s defense attorney through cross-examination at trial.

As noted by many commentators, that can make the use of informants a “double-edged sword” for the justice system.

A common tactic of police is to ascertain the potential value of a person they have caught with drugs before they bring charges. If a detainee ostensibly has value to authorities in helping them make a bigger case, a deal is often worked out, with a prosecutor first brought in to sign off on any plea agreement.

A person arrested on a drug charge — even what might seem a relatively minor matter involving simple possession of a small quantity of drugs — can face heavy consequences. Involvement of an informant in a drug case can render the matter even more complex, with questions often arising as to an informant’s motivations and to any deal that was made between that person and police officers.

A knowledgeable and diligent criminal defense attorney can answer questions and provide strong representation against any drug charge.

Source: Athens Banner-Herald, “Snitches play important role bringing down Athens drug dealers,” Joe Johnson, Nov. 25, 2012