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Unfortunately, the entire system is difficult to track and regulate because of its informal and secretive operations. The potential benefits exchanged for information create a strong incentive for informants to lie.


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In addition, the secretive nature of the system makes cross-examination and legal safeguards against unreliable testimony ineffective. Generally, jailhouse snitches have several characteristics that make them poor witnesses:. For more than two decades, we have been providing outstanding criminal defense for our clients. We handle many challenging, high-profile and celebrity defendant cases, and our lawyers are often interviewed by major publications for a perspective on legal cases in the media. Attorney who has been practicing criminal law since Kelly Quinn is a certified specialist in writs and appeals.

Learning the Identity of a Confidential Informant

If the outcome of your case is being affected by unreliable testimony from a jailhouse informant, contact us as soon as possible at You can have confidence that when our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys take on a case, we are effective, efficient, and will present a well-crafted legal strategy to achieve a positive outcome. Posted in: Criminal Defense.

How do I discredit the "informant" in my Nevada criminal drug case?

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What Is a Jailhouse Informant? Generally, jailhouse snitches have several characteristics that make them poor witnesses: Being incarcerated, they are surrounded by vulnerable targets already suspected of criminal conduct. Informers are therefore generally protected, either by being segregated while in prison or, if they are not incarcerated, relocated under a new identity. Informants, and especially criminal informants, can be motivated by many reasons. Many informants are not themselves aware of all of their reasons for providing information, but nonetheless do so.

Many informants provide information while under stress, duress, emotion and other life factors that can impact the accuracy or veracity of information provided.

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges and others should be aware of possible motivations so that they can properly approach, assess and verify informants' information. Generally, informants' motivations can be broken down into self-interest, self-preservation and conscience. Corporations and the detective agencies that sometimes represent them have historically hired labor spies to monitor or control labor organizations and their activities.

They may be willing accomplices, or may be tricked into informing on their co-workers' unionization efforts. Paid informants have often been used by authorities within politically and socially oriented movements to weaken, destabilize and ultimately break them. Informers alert authorities regarding government officials that are corrupt.

The trouble with using police informants in the US - BBC News

Officials may be taking bribes , or participants in a money loop also called a kickback. Informers in some countries receive a percentage of all monies recovered by their government. Lactantius described an example from ancient Rome involved the prosecution of a woman suspected to have advised a woman not to marry Maximinus II : "Neither indeed was there any accuser, until a certain Jew , one charged with other offences, was induced, through hope of pardon, to give false evidence against the innocent.

The equitable and vigilant magistrate conducted him out of the city under a guard, lest the populace should have stoned him The Jew was ordered to the torture till he should speak as he had been instructed The innocent were condemned to die Nor was the promise of pardon made good to the feigned adulterer, for he was fixed to a gibbet, and then he disclosed the whole secret contrivance; and with his last breath he protested to all the beholders that the women died innocent.


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Criminal informant schemes have been used as cover for politically motivated intelligence offensives. Jailhouse informants, who report hearsay admissions against penal interest which they claim to have heard while the accused is in pretrial detention , usually in exchange for sentence reductions or other inducements, have been the focus of particular controversy. The phrase "drop a dime" refers to an informant using a payphone to call the authorities to report information.

The term "stool pigeon" originates from the antiquated practice of tying a passenger pigeon to a stool.

ACLU sues Orange County D.A. and sheriff over use of jailhouse informants

The bird would flap its wings in a futile attempt to escape. The sound of the wings flapping would attract other pigeons to the stool where a large number of birds could be easily killed or captured. A system of informants existed in Russian Empire and later adopted by the Soviet Union. In Russia such person was known as osvedomitel or donoschik literally, whistleblower and secretly cooperated with law enforcement agencies such as Okhranka or later Soviet militsiya or KGB. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Person who provides privileged information about a person or organization to an agency. For other uses, see Informant disambiguation , The Informant disambiguation , Informer disambiguation , and The Stool Pigeon disambiguation. Main article: Unofficial collaborator. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 6 June