Law enforcement and prosecutors use various strategies to facilitate investigations and
convictions. A technique widely used is confidential informants. Also known as
“snitches,” they provide evidence that is otherwise difficult to find, furnishing probable
cause for law enforcement to obtain a search warrant or make an arrest. The use of
informants calls into question the criminal justice system’s integrity. Police, prosecutors,
and judges are keenly aware of questionable motivations for snitches to provide
compelling testimony. False informant testimony is a leading contributor to wrongful
At The AP Law Group, we believe that being accused and convicted of a crime due
to false informant testimony is a travesty of justice. Many innocent people have spent
years in prison and even on death row with no chance of proving their innocence and
securing their freedom. Statistics support that many DNA-based exonerations in Florida
and nationwide involved snitches that lied in testimony.
An incentivized witness is an informant who testifies against a person for expected
benefits. These incentives can be reduced sentences, immigration benefits, money, or
other negotiated deals in exchange for witness testimony. Often these witnesses are
“jailhouse informants” facing criminal charges themselves. The possibility of negotiating
with prosecutors is a powerful incentive for informants to manipulate the facts without
regard for the truth.
History of Informants in Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions
The use of informants is a time-honored practice in the United States. Since the
inception of the FBI in 1908, informants have played a role in the investigation and
prosecution of defendants for federal crimes. Informants are integral to the success of
many investigations for drug crimes, organized crime, and other felonious criminal acts.
Informants became more prevalent in the 1970s when President Nixon declared war on
drugs. Arresting alleged drug offenders through entrapment became commonplace,
making deals with low-level street offenders to “snitch” on the real targets, those selling,
trafficking, or manufacturing illegal drugs. Often, informants continued to commit crimes
while working for the government.
Crime Doesn’t Pay… or Does It?
Incentivized witnesses play a crucial role in gathering evidence by directly engaging
with suspects, sometimes participating in a crime such as a drug buy, observing and
reporting violations, or coercing a confession from an alleged criminal. Some people
make a living by selling information to law enforcement and prosecutors. Examples are:
- A 2016 investigation by the Sun Sentinel Newspaper revealed an unnamed informant in Florida was paid nearly $1.5 million for his work as a snitch over 31 years.
- The New York City Department of Environmental Protection paid snitches for reporting idling vehicle violations. In 2020, the city paid out $175,000 as a reward for this information.
- Between 2010 and 2015, an audit released by the Department of Justice reported that the DEA had more than 18.000 active confidential sources, paying over 9.000 of those sources approximately $237 million for the information they provided.
The AP Law Group Fights against Wrongful Convictions
When a confidential informant is used to gather evidence, our legal team investigates
the informant’s reliability, how the knowledge was obtained and shared with law
enforcement, and whether there is concrete and corroborating evidence. We work
tirelessly to provide a customized legal strategy for our clients, to reduce their sentences,
prove their innocence and protect their freedom.
The AP Law Group has achieved successful outcomes for countless clients charged
with Florida State and Federal misdemeanor and felony crimes. We are passionate about
upholding the rights of the accused. We represent clients throughout Marion, Alachua,
and the surrounding counties. Our office locations are Ocala and Gainesville, Florida.
Call The AP Law Group at (352)732-9191 to schedule an appointment. Let us review
your case and help you determine the best steps to secure your future.