This is the next post in my series on defending against criminal charges in Long Island, New York involving illegal drugs. In my previous post, I discussed how search and seizure issues can impact drug charges. I noted that law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity prior to stopping and searching a person. If the officers lack such suspicion, then drugs found during the search may possibly be excluded from evidence. My last article also stressed the importance of contacting an experienced criminal attorney if you are facing drug-related charges. In this post, I will discuss the police’s use of confidential informants in drug cases. If you or someone you love is accused of possessing or selling controlled substances, contact my office to speak with a lawyer.
Law enforcement officers may find illegal substances in someone’s home or vehicle while executing a search warrant. To obtain a search warrant, the police must first submit an application to the Court. The application must demonstrate that the officer seeking the warrant has “probable cause” that the search will lead to evidence of criminal activity. A variety of facts can be used to show probable cause, including information obtained by confidential informants. Before issuing a warrant based upon a confidential tip, the police must prove that the informant is “reliable.” This means that it is possible to challenge the issuance of the warrant based on the unreliability of the person providing the information.
To challenge the issuance of a search warrant, defense counsel must first submit a motion to the Court. The legal standard for reviewing the use of a confidential informant in a warrant application was established in Franks v. Delaware. According to this standard, the Court must review whether: (1) the informant was “reliable” and (2) the application for the warrant would have been supported without the information provided by the informant. Facts about the informant’s credibility or motives and whether the statements provided were false or misleading will be considered by the Court. If the informant is found to have been unreliable then the Court must decide whether the warrant would have been issued independent of the confidential tip. If the other information standing alone would not have been enough to issue the search warrant, the evidence found as a result of the search will not be admitted against the defendant. In some situations, this could lead to charges being dropped.
Criminal drug offenses can involve complex legal issues and may result in serious consequences. For these reasons, it is important to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in these matters. As a Long Island criminal attorney, I can assist with drug cases. Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation. Our office also serves Kings County residents in Brooklyn, residents of Queens, those in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as people in other New York areas.