The Use of Confidential Informants in Boston Drug Crime Cases

Over the years, police have tried a number of different investigative tactics to uncover illegal activities and arrest those they believe to be engaged in such activities. In general, the United States and Massachusetts constitutions outline the protections individuals have from intrusive, unfair, or coercive police conduct, and courts will apply these constitutional principles to enforce the rights of individuals when necessary. More often than not, this results in the exclusion of evidence obtained illegally through a motion to suppress.One way that police try to uncover illegal narcotic activity is through the use of confidential informants. A confidential informant is often a citizen with no law enforcement experience who agrees to cooperate with the police. Often, these individuals have some kind of “inside” knowledge through their relationship with those who are the target of the police investigation.

The use of confidential informants, however, presents major concerns because an informant’s tip can lead to the issuance of a warrant, or it may be the basis for an arrest or search. That being the case, Massachusetts courts only allow police to act on certain kinds of tips from confidential informants. A recent case illustrates how courts analyze cases involving confidential informants.

The Facts of the Case

Police received a tip from a confidential informant that the defendant was selling drugs. The tip specified that the defendant would use a certain bar as a base of operations and would also drive his car to buyers’ homes to conduct sales there. The tip included the make, model, and license plate of the defendant’s car.

One day, police gathered around the bar and waited for the defendant to get into his car. When he did, police pulled him over, searched the car, and found $5,100 and a loaded gun. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the money and gun as illegally seized evidence, arguing that the confidential informant’s tip was an insufficient basis to stop and search him.

The Court’s Analysis

The court began by noting that, in order to make a search that was conducted pursuant to a confidential informant’s tip, the prosecution must be able to establish the confidential informant’s basis of knowledge, as well as the veracity of the tip.

Here, the court first noted that the defense did not contest the informant’s basis of knowledge, so that prong was not reviewed. However, the court did conduct an analysis of the informant’s veracity, or truthfulness. In so doing, the court considered the testimony of a detective who had worked with the informant in the past and noted that the informant had provided reliable information. Although the detective did not testify to the details of the prior information, or the number of times he had worked with the informant, the court concluded that the presented evidence was sufficient to establish the informant’s veracity. Thus, the court determined that the police were acting within their mandate when they relied on the informant’s tip to stop and search the defendant.

Have You Been Arrested for a Boston Drug Crime?

If you have recently been arrested for a drug crime, you should immediately consult with a dedicated Boston drug crime attorney to discuss your case. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has over 22 years of experience representing those charged with serious Massachusetts drug crimes. Attorney Murphy works closely with his clients to develop compelling defenses and to ensure that the prosecution is held to the appropriate standard. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call 617-367-0450 today.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Court Affirms Conviction for Drug Possession on “Constructive Possession” Theory, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published March 7, 2018

Search Warrants Obtained After Illegal Search in Massachusetts Meth Crime Case, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published February 8, 2018

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