Law enforcement often uses confidential informants, also known as “C.I.’s,” when pursuing drug cases in Ohio. The confidential informant is typically facing their own criminal charges, such as drug possession or drug trafficking, and the police have negotiated a deal, sometimes through the confidential informant’s criminal defense attorney, for cooperation in setting up another person in exchange for not pursuing criminal charges against the informant.
The confidential informant acts as a witness and approaches a person for the purpose of having the purpose facilitate a “drug buy.” For example, the confidential informant will approach a person and ask for marijuana, cocaine, etc., and give the person money in exchange for the drug. Since the confidential informant is acting at the behest of law enforcement, the confidential informant receives immunity from prosecution for his or her participation in the crime (i.e., drug possession).
In some cases, the defense of “entrapment” can be used to demonstrate that “but for” the actions of the confidential informant, the crime would not have occurred.
Confidential Informants and Search Warrants in Ohio
Upon using a confidential informant to facilitate the commission of a crime, law enforcement will use the confidential informant as the basis to obtain a search warrant. Search warrants must be supported by affidavits or sworn statements either naming or describing the person to be searched or state with particularity the place to be searched and what items may be seized. The affidavit must also state a factual basis supporting an allegation of a crime.
When law enforcement uses a confidential informant to obtain a search warrant, the officers will ask the court to leave the contents of the warrant sealed. This means that the information, such as the affidavit, inventory, and the return on search warrant providing the warrant number is not available for the public to view.
This means that when the search warrant is served on the person to be searched or the person’s residence, the search warrant will not include the affidavit in support of the search warrant, inventory, or return on search warrant. Thus, law enforcement will prevent the disclosure of the identity of the confidential informant, even from the criminal defense attorney representing the person who was searched.
Motions to Unseal the Warrant
While it may be necessary to have the search warrant remain sealed for a limited period of time, it is not necessary for the search warrant to be sealed permanently. If the search warrant is not unsealed quickly after a person is charged with a crime, that person’s criminal defense attorney can file a Motion to Unseal the Warrant.
This motion will request that the court order the unsealing of the warrant and make public the affidavit, inventory and return on search warrant. This information is necessary in evaluating whether the prosecution had probable cause to support a search warrant and will be helpful in the defense of the person charged.
Disclosure of the Confidential Informant
In addition to requesting the unsealing of the warrant, a criminal defense attorney can request the disclose of the confidential informant. A Motion to Disclose Confidential Informant can be filed requesting that the identity of the confidential informant be disclosed to the person’s attorney.
This is necessary as the confidential informant may have a past criminal history that is relevant to the determination of whether he or she is a credible witness. Additionally, the person charged needs to be aware of whether the confidential informant is receiving a benefit, such as criminal charges not being brought against them, by participating as a confidential informant.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your criminal offense case.
Johnson Legal, LLC serves the following cities in the central Ohio area for Criminal Defense:
Westerville, Worthington, Columbus, Polaris, Reynoldsburg, Grandview Heights, Shawnee Hills, Bexley, Pickerington, Gahanna, Sunbury, Powell, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Dublin, Hilliard, Lewis Center, Galena, Clintonville, Huber Ridge, Blacklick, Grove City, Delaware, Marysville, Groveport, Newark, Canal Winchester, Obetz, Marion, Mt. Gilead, Pataskala, Granville, Whitehall, Franklin County, Morrow County, Licking County, Knox County, Union County, Madison County and Delaware County