Confidential Informants

by | Sep 21, 2018 | Theft, Fraud & Other Offences

If you have been charged with a criminal offence as a result of information provided by a confidential informant, we can explore the possible lines of defence open to you.

If we discover that any evidence has been obtained unconstitutionally, we can apply to have this evidence excluded. Furthermore, it may be possible to have the informant’s identity disclosed if it would prove your innocence.

To find out more about how our criminal defence lawyers can help you, please contact us today at Mickelson & Whysall.

Confidential informants and the law

Confidential informants are often relied upon by the police when investigating drug-related offences.

The relationship works on the basis that the confidential informant will provide the police with information they cannot obtain elsewhere, and in return will be protected by the legal concept of ‘informer privilege’. This means their identity cannot be disclosed by anyone – not the police, the prosecution, the defence or the court.

The information provided by a confidential informant may result in a number of consequences. Often, it will prompt the police to apply for a search warrant or wiretap authorization.

As part of this application, the police must establish that there are reasonable grounds for their request. If this is based on information provided by a confidential informant, it must be shown to be compelling, credible and/or confirmed. A judge or justice of the peace can only authorize a search warrant or wiretap if he/she is satisfied that the information is reliable.

Ordinarily, it is possible to get a copy of a warrant application, but where a confidential informant has been used, the application may be sealed. This means it cannot be released by the court. Or an edited or ‘redacted’ version may be provided.

What are your options?

If a confidential informant has been used in your case, it can feel frustrating, as it can seem difficult to mount a defence when you are not fully aware of the facts. However, there are ways to assist your case and your lawyer can explore all the options available.

For example, it should be considered whether the evidence was in fact collected lawfully. If any evidence was unconstitutionally obtained, it cannot be used against you. This might happen if the police excluded certain details from the warrant application, or there were not actually reasonable grounds for the search.

Alternatively, you can request to have the confidential informer’s identity disclosed – but only if your innocence is at stake. This might apply if the informant was a material witness to the offence or actually participated in the offence itself. The court does have the power to grant this request and is the only time an informer’s privilege may be broken.

Vancouver criminal lawyer

As criminal lawyers, we can recommend the best approach in your individual case, exploring all the possible lines of defence.

If we believe that certain evidence was unlawfully obtained, we will apply to have this evidence struck out. Or if we feel the disclosure of the confidential informant is essential to proving your innocence, we will take the necessary steps to achieve this.

For further information on how we can help you defend a criminal charge, please contact our Vancouver law office.

Call a Vancouver Criminal Lawyer Now – 604-688-8588