This is the next post in our series on the handling of Little Rock, Arkansas criminal cases involving confidential informants. Our last article discussed situations in which police officers may use a CI. It is important to understand that officers are only permitted to use informants who are reliable. Arrests based on information provided by unreliable informants can be challenged in Court. In this article we will expand upon this idea by discussing how the use of an informant can be challenged through Motion practice. If you have questions about your situation then contact our office today to speak with a criminal defense attorney.
If you have a legitimate claim that a search or arrest warrant was based on information from a bad CI then the first thing to do is to file a Motion with the Court. A Motion is a written document in which one makes a formal request of the Judge. The prosecutor will file a written response to the Motion and the Court will schedule an “evidentiary hearing” at which the arresting officer will testify. Evidentiary hearings are a separate proceeding from trial. Your lawyer will cross-examine the officer in an attempt to establish that the CI was not a reliable source on which the officer could base an arrest warrant application. Counsel will likely question the officer on issues relating to the CI’s history of providing information as well as other steps which were taken to verify the informant’s credibility.
The Court will issue its ruling after the evidentiary hearing is held. If the Court finds that the informant was reliable then the warrant, and any arrest stemming from it, will be upheld. If the Judge finds that the informant was not reliable then it must be determined whether the arresting officer’s warrant application would have supported issuing a warrant without the informant’s information. If the application contained other evidence, that supported the warrant, then the issuance will be upheld. If the application did not contain sufficient additional evidence then the warrant will be invalidated. If the warrant is invalidated then the case may be dismissed in its entirety, depending on the circumstances.
It is important to understand how this would work in practice. Say, for example, that an officer applied for an arrest warrant and relied on the statements from a CI when filling out the warrant application. Now say that the application contained statements from other witnesses as well. If the CI’s is found to have been an unreliable person then the issuance of the warrant would be upheld if the other witness statements were sufficient to support it. If those other witness statements, by themselves, did not justify the issuance of a warrant then then the arrest would likely be invalidated.
Our Little Rock criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience in handling such matters. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. We also handle matters in Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.