Many people facing drug charges or other crimes in Montgomery County are offered a special type of plea deal where their charges are reduced or even dropped in exchange for information. These confidential informants, or “CI’s” as they are called, are expected to provide information to the police to bust other people allegedly committing more serious crimes. Generally, you make an agreement with the police for a specific amount of assistance in exchange for a better plea deal.

Becoming a confidential informant can significantly reduce the charges you face, especially in drug-related cases, making the prospect appealing to many people; however, this isn’t a decision you should make lightly. Before you agree to become a Montgomery County confidential informant, it’s important to consider these five CI facts.

  1. You will be expected to take an active role in obtaining information. Many people assume they can simply trade information for freedom. While this is occasionally true, you almost always will be required to take a more active role. This means that you will need to usually do something with police involved, such as wearing a wire, making a controlled buy, or introducing undercover cops to suspects.

  2. There are risks, as well as benefits. Sure, becoming a confidential informant could lead to seriously lessened charges. This is a great benefit. There are also risks, though. If you are a confidential informant, your identity could be compromised. Depending on your agreement with the police, if your identity becomes known, it may be impossible for you to fulfill your end of the deal. You need to talk over these risks with an experienced attorney.

  3. You don’t get partial credit. Whatever your agreement is with the prosecution, it has to be completely fulfilled before you are given the benefits of the deal you offered. For example, if you agree to help arrest four drug dealers in order to get your charges dropped, you will face the same charges and punishments as if you were not a CI if you are only able to help with three arrests. This means that you need to be realistic about any agreement that you make with the police. A large number of busts means a long term commitment by you to work with the police.

  4. You have the right to an attorney—and you should take advantage of that fact. In general, a lawyer is always able to help you better ensure your rights when arrested, but this is especially true if you are planning to enter into negotiations to become a confidential informant. Because CI agreements can be complex, a lawyer is the best person to check them over and make sure you are getting the deal that you think you are. A lawyer will also be able to ensure you are protected and that the police live up to their side of the deal as well.

  5. Being a CI is a long-term commitment. Almost no confidential informants participate in only one bust. Usually, you are required to do several or even many. Some CIs work with law enforcement for months or even years. You need to realize this at the outset and be willing to commit for the long haul.

  6. As you can see, there are more factors to consider before agreeing to become a confidential informant than most people realize. For this reason, we always encourage people to talk over the prospect with a lawyer before even starting negotiations with law enforcement.

    If you have been arrested on drug charges or for any other crime that has triggered law enforcement to offer a deal, call an experienced Montgomery County criminal lawyer at Fienman Defense right away at (215) 839-9529. We can give you an honest assessment of your situation and help you decide if becoming a CI or accepting any other deal is a good option for you.

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