How Credible Is the Informant in Your Virginia Criminal Case? Our Manassas Criminal Defense Lawyers Help You Fight Back 

As part of criminal investigations, the police sometimes use informants to help them collect evidence against someone they suspect committed a crime. If you’re charged with a criminal offense based in part on evidence supplied by an informant, you must defend yourself if there’s even the slightest chance the information isn’t correct.  

At The Wilson Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers devise a strategy to help you challenge the credibility of informants being used to convict you. We also ensure that your legal rights are protected and will raise any available defenses to help you fight the charges you face. 

Understanding the Role of an Informant in Virginia Criminal Cases 

Law enforcement agencies sometimes rely on informants to gather evidence against individuals suspected of committing crimes. An informant, also known as a snitch or a confidential source, is an individual who provides information about criminal activities. These informants, who may be individuals from various backgrounds, do this in exchange for leniency on their standing charges, immunity from prosecution, financial compensation, or other benefits. The police may use them in investigations of drug offenses, white-collar crimes, and other criminal acts.

If you’re facing criminal charges based on information an informant provides, it’s crucial to mount a strong defense. Our legal team has extensive experience challenging the credibility of informants when necessary and exploring other defense strategies tailored to your case. 

Types of Informants Used in Criminal Cases 

Not every informant is a criminal or has a criminal background, but if contracted to perform this service, their lawbreaking is often overlooked to maintain their status as an information source. Here are the three common categories of the role. 

Police Confidential Informant 

These are individuals who agreed to cooperate to mitigate their own legal troubles by helping law enforcement officers. CIs, as they’re typically known, may have prior criminal records or are people involved in criminal activities. 

Citizen Informant 

As an ordinary member of the community, a person in this role provides information to the police about suspected criminal activities voluntarily or when approached by law enforcement. Based on their knowledge or observations of criminal behavior, they're usually considered valuable sources.

Jailhouse Informant 

Incarcerated individuals may offer information in exchange for favorable treatment, such as reduced sentences or improved living conditions in prison. A jailhouse informant could be placed in the same jail cell as you or might try to befriend you to gather evidence police can potentially use against you. You must exercise your right to remain silent and refrain from discussing your criminal case with anyone but your legal team. 

Factors Affecting an Informant's Credibility  

Unfortunately, the police often make mistakes when conducting criminal investigations, including in the use of informants. If this includes information to charge you with a crime, our skilled criminal defense lawyers at The Wilson Law Firm may be able to file a motion to suppress any evidence improperly collected against you and challenge the informant's credibility. 

When evaluating how believable an informant's testimony or information could be, we consider several factors: 

  • Truthfulness. The informant's history of honesty is a crucial factor in confirming credibility. A track record of providing accurate information to law enforcement agencies enhances it, while a history of dishonesty or false statements in exchange for benefits may undermine their reliability.
  • Basis of the informant's knowledge. During our investigation of case evidence, we examine the source of the informant's intel and whether it’s based on firsthand knowledge or hearsay. Information obtained from direct observation or participation in criminal activities is generally more reliable than hearsay, which may not be admissible in court.
  • Reliability. The consistency and reliability of the informant's statements and actions are essential considerations. If we can highlight discrepancies or contradictions in the informant's accounts, this may raise serious doubts about their credibility and the accuracy of their information.
  • Corroboration of information. Corroborating evidence and witness statements strengthens the prosecution's case and lends credibility to the informant's testimony.
  • Specificity of information provided. The level of detail provided by an informant affects their credibility, too. If it’s vague, not very specific, and can’t be corroborated by other evidence, we may be able to raise questions about whether the informant has reliable knowledge of the alleged criminal activity outlined in your charges. 

You have numerous rights that protect you, including the fact that you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty. No matter what an informant might say, the government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the alleged offense. Count on The Wilson Law Firm to examine all evidence thoroughly as we build your defense case.