Will I know the identity of the confidential informant in a Boston drug arrest?
Those charged with a drug offense of possession with the intent to distribute in Brockton will often wonder if the identity of the confidential informant will be disclosed at trial or during the discovery process in the case.
Massachusetts Law provides for the potential that the Commonwealth can keep the name of an informant confidential. Under Massachusetts Law Chapter 263A § 13, concerning the disclosure of identity or location of a witness or other sensitive information, it follows that:
- A prosecuting officer may disclose or refuse to disclose the identity or location of a protected witness, or any other matter concerning a protected witness or the program, after balancing the danger such disclosure may pose to the protected witness, the detriment to the general effectiveness to the program, and the benefit it may afford to the public or the person seeking discovery.
The rationale for keeping the identity of informant unknown is to protect the witness from potential harm; this interest however, is contrary to a defendant’s Sixth Amendment Right of Confrontation and requires a balancing of these two interests by the Court.
When the Commonwealth is not required to give the name of the informant, the informant would not have to give any information that would reveal his or her identity.
- Motion to disclose the Identity of the Confidential Informant:
When a defense attorney files a motion to disclose the identity of the confidential informant, if the court allows the motion it forces the Commonwealth to decide between:
- Refusing to disclose and having the case dismissed;
- Or disclosing the identity of the informant.
If the identity of the informant is disclosed, typically an informant will have a record of drug abuse and will be subject to attack on cross examination.
To determine if a confidential informant will qualify as a material witness the Court considers:
- Whether the informant is an eyewitness
- Participant in the transaction
- Or served as an accomplice
Was the defendant in the vicinity of the drug transaction to have material and relevant testimony.
Making an argument for disclosure of a confidential informant in a Massachusetts drug arrest will have the goal of obtaining a dismissal of the charge. If you have any questions about a Drug Arrest in Brockton feel free to call 781-686-5924 or 508-455-4755.