If someone calls the police and leaves an anonymous tip, and that tip leads
to an arrest and criminal charges, can the defendant’s criminal
defense attorney track down the person who made the tip and identify them
to the offender? Is the anonymous tipper at risk of being found out?
As criminal defense lawyers, we certainly hope so. If someone is in this
situation and they want to be 100% anonymous, their best bet is to call
“Crime Stoppers,” because they are about as anonymous as it gets.
We cannot help but be partially biased when it comes a defendant’s
legal rights to due process and a fair trial. One of the most fundamental
constitutional rights that every American has is to confront any witnesses
that the state intends to use to secure a conviction.
Yes, a criminal defense attorney can find out someone’s identity
if they called the police and made an anonymous tip. But, the caller can
also be listed as a “confidential witness.”
About Confidential Witnesses
We’ve all heard about confidential witnesses on TV and in Hollywood
movies, usually when the story had something to do with the mob. A dozen
or so mob bosses are arrested and put on trial in a highly-publicized
media event after a confidential informant has been giving information
to the FBI and police.
Does this mean that the mob bosses or other criminal defendants have the
right to know their informant’s identity? It depends.
discovery process, the prosecution is required to disclose the information that
it’s using to seek a conviction.
Usually, this means that the defendant is entitled to know the names as
well as the statements made by any witnesses relevant to the case, but
the state may not necessarily reveal the identity of a special witness
confidential information or CI.
Generally, the government likes to keep the identity of CIs confidential,
after all, when CIs come forward to the police, they do so voluntarily
and they don’t want to be identified because they fear for their safety.
The police realize that if they give the identity of a CI, not only will
they cease getting information from that person, it will deter others
from becoming informants. Given the importance of CIs, courts give them
special treatment, and they aren’t treated like other witnesses.
Is it possible to learn a CI’s identity? Yes it is, but it can be
an uphill battle for the defendant. If someone tipped the police off about
you, we suggest that you
Tampa criminal defense attorney from Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to see how we would handle your particular