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In Colorado When You Agree To Be An Informant – You Must Consider The Decision Carefully – It is not unusual when charged with a serious Colorado drug crime – if the evidence is very strong and a conviction almost a certainty – to consider becoming an informant also known as a CI or confidential informant.
The decision to inform or otherwise cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of Colorado drug crimes cases requires that you consider all of the risks and the possible benefits
The Colorado United States Attorneys, State of Colorado County Prosecutors or City Prosecutors ALL have the authority to decide whether and when to use informant witnesses, and what is given in “exchange” for that cooperation. It has been said that some of the greatest successes in the criminal courts could not have been accomplished without the skilled use of informant witnesses.
Immunity for those charged with crimes or decisions not to prosecute (nolle prosequi) reflect the importance of testimony, and the fact that many offenses are of such a character that the only persons capable of giving useful testimony are those implicated in the crime.
So called “normal” witnesses have little exposure to attacks of character, credibility, and integrity. At worst the average witness is attacked on the basis of being simply mistaken as to what he or she believes was seen or heard.
On the other hand the accomplice, the co-conspirator, the so called “snitch” or informer, is constantly attacked in righteous tones – even enraged accusations – that the witness is “lying through his teeth” for reasons that are obvious to every “decent person” in the courtroom.
In representing criminal defendants — especially guilty ones — an experienced criminal defense lawyer will put the Government on trial. The best defense is a good offense. In this wae – should the state use an informant witness, “character,” “bias,” and “credibility” are used to lodge a frontal offensive against that evidence and carry that attack to other damaging parts of the case.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer attacks the informant on the basis that these “criminals” will say and do anything to get what they want and in the case of “turning state’s evidence” that means a willingness to do anything including not only testifying against coconspirator but also lying, committing perjury, manufacturing evidence, soliciting others to corroborate their lies with more lies, and double-crossing almost anyone with whom they come into contact.
If you used drugs – then you are “a drug addict who would sell out your mother to get a deal. As a “criminal” you are remarkably manipulative and skillfully devious. You are a conscienceless sociopaths to whom “truth” is a wholly meaningless concept. To you “conning” people is a way of life. One day you are a “reliable informant,” the next day you are a “consummate prevaricator.”
Jurors will not trust what you have to say. Juries are predisposed to dislike, distrust, and frequently despise criminals who “sell out” and become prosecution witnesses. They suspect your motives from the moment they hear about them in a case. They may entirely disregard your testimony as highly untrustworthy and unreliable and may actually openly express disgust with the prosecution for making deals with “scum.”
The benefits of working a deal as an informant will most likely outweigh the difficulties you will face as a witness. Nonetheless it is a good idea that you understand what you will face as a witness.
The defense lawyer will go after you with everything he or she can find. But those in the system – well understand the value of your testimony.
In the words of Judge Learned Hand…
The use of “snitches,” informers, coconspirators, and accomplices are indispensable weapons in a prosecutor’s battle to protect a community against criminals. Therein lies the value of the bargain for the potential informer.
If you are under investigation in a complex fraud case, your value to the government may be short lived. Once an “insider” is identified and a deal is struck by his or her lawyer, every other target in the organization is fair game as usually only one informant is needed to unravel and to explain the intricacies of a complex “scam.”
“To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” If you have potential value to the prosecution – you must act to work a deal for your testimony early. Learn the guidelines of the prosecutor’s office you are working with. “Little fish” -“big fish” dealsl turn on the value of the testimony offered. Ask yourself “how big a fish am I?” What can I offer to the state of Colorado in this prosecution?
For prosecutors, deals for immunity need to be made with little fish to get the bigger fish. Ask yourself – how big a fish are you? The DA will not offer a more of a deal than he or she has to.
Your lawyer should have the kind of experience to understand your “value” and to not settle for an offer to plea bargain that is of much less value to you than it is to the prosecutor. Charge bargaining (dismissing higher charges for pleas to lower charges) is much more common for opening offers as “total immunity” from prosecution should be is often offered as a last resort.
You will not be offered a deal for your testimony unless your testimony will significantly advance the DA’s ability to win his case. The DA knows that by calling an “informer,” he will need to be prepared for war as the use of your kind of witness gives tremendous ammunition to the defense. It is the kind of ammunition that frequently can undermine the state’s case.
Informants are often attacked in the following areas:
The best use of an informant may be solely for “intel.” Intel is information previously unknown to law enforcement that is used to develop other evidence of the target or other target’’s guilt.
If, as an informant, you can help to independently corroborate what you re offering as far as trial testimony, the value of the offer of assistance you are making is substantially enhanced.
Good Luck – H. Michael Steinberg
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author – A Denver Colorado Drug Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.
If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about this article “In Colorado When You Agree To Be An Informant – You Must Consider The Decision Carefully,” please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.
H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options. Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.
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Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg provides solid criminal defense for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the City and County courts of Adams County, Arapahoe County, City and County of Boulder, City and County of Broomfield, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, El Paso County – Colorado Springs, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, and Weld County,…. and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving …In Colorado When You Agree To Be An Informant – You Must Consider The Decision Carefully.