This is the next post in my series on the handling of drug trafficking cases in Phoenix, Arizona. My last article discussed how search and seizure issues impact drug trafficking cases. It is important to understand that such charges may be dismissed if it is shown that law enforcement violated the defendant’s rights. In this post I will discuss another important topic which arises in such cases – law enforcement’s use of confidential informants. If you have been arrested due to the word of an informant then it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Police commonly rely on confidential informants as a way of locating drug traffickers. Officers will include information from informants in the arrest warrant applications which a Judge must approve. It is important to understand, however, that an officer cannot simply rely on someone who claims to have information. If the informant does not have a history of providing reliable information, or if there is no other sufficient reason to think that the informant is reliable, then it is possible to challenge the arrest warrant that was issued. If it is found that the warrant should not have been issued then it may be possible to have the case dismissed.
The first step in challenging an arrest warrant is for the defense lawyer to file a Motion to Dismiss the case. The Motion must articulate why the informant should have been considered unreliable and the legal support making such an argument. The prosecution will file an opposition to the Motion and, after a reply is filed, the Court will hold a hearing on the matter. Depending on the circumstances the Court may also choose to hold an evidentiary hearing at which the officer will have to testify in regards to their use of an informant.
It is important to understand that the arrest warrant may still be found valid even if the Court rules that the informant was not reliable. If the officer included other information in their warrant application, in addition to the facts which the informant provided, then the warrant will be valid if the additional information would have independently supported the issuance of an arrest warrant. Whether or not a warrant application will be found sufficient is always going to be based on the specific facts of each case and it is important that you retain counsel who is familiar with handling such matters.
If you have been charged with drug trafficking then contact my office today to speak with a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer. I believe that everyone is entitled to the most aggressive defense and I strive to provide my clients with the highest level of service. I also service Maricopa County areas such as Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert as well as Pima County residents in Tucson.