Police officers lie—it’s a sad reality in the world of criminal justice. Although many Americans believe that police officers would only lie to hardened criminals suspected of the most heinous crimes, police actually lie every day to regular citizens.

If police want to turn you into an informant, you likely aren’t a hardened criminal, but you probably did break the law and are facing criminal charges. As a person who made one small mistake and wants to avoid jail time, you are an easy target for police lies.

How Police Create Informants With Lies

Police enjoy broad power and freedom in determining how to do their job and gather information, including the right to lie to suspects. Police often employ tactics to induce fear in suspects and then use lies to build their trust.

For most, an arrest is a terrifying experience. In the moment, you often don’t know what to do or say, and most people forget to immediately demand to speak with an attorney. In these situations, suspects are left to the mercy of law enforcement.

To scare suspects, police officers often begin by laying out the maximum sentence for the suspected crime. They intentionally fail to explain that mitigating factors often result in plea agreements that involve sentences of far less than the maximums. Once they adequately scare a suspect, the police will begin to claim that, if the suspect cooperates and agrees to serve as a police informant, they will reduce or even drop the charges.

Unfortunately, the claims that police make in an attempt to induce a suspect’s cooperation are sometimes unfounded. The only way to ensure the reduction or dismissal of your charges is to have your lawyer negotiate a written agreement.

Sadly, many people who agreed to work as informants weren’t actually facing any real charges, but the police still managed to pressure them into cooperating through lying and intimidation. An experienced criminal defense attorney will determine if your actions warrant actual charges and whether you should consider working as an informant.

The Danger of Serving as an Informant

Even if you face serious criminal charges—and your attorney determines that the police’s offer to work as an informant is legitimate and will result in a reduction of your charges—serving as a police informant can put you in danger. While it may prove your best option, you need to understand the danger it can pose.

The identify of informants is not confidential information once the police apprehend their target suspect. At trial, defendants have the right to know the identity of witnesses who will testify against them, and as an informant, you will serve as one of those witnesses. Testifying as a witness in a well-connected criminal suspect’s trial may present serious danger, and the police may not care.

Protecting Yourself From Police Lies

Unfortunately, there is not a quick and easy way to determine if a police officer is lying to you, and you should always remain suspicious of offers to work as an informant.

Experienced criminal defense lawyers recognize common police tactics, and they understand what the law permits an officer to do. If you find yourself in a situation where the police are pressuring you to agree to work as an informant, or where you suspect the officers are lying to you about the charges you may face, demand to speak with an attorney immediately. Call the Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410, or contact us online, to find out how we can help.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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