Confidential Informants: Is there such a thing as a Confidential Informant’s privilege.

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In Ohio, courts recognize the prosecutions right to withhold the name(s) of individuals providing the police detectives with confidential information leading to an arrest.  Police departments statewide rely on confidential informants to provide information that can only be learned from within a particular criminal enterprise.  Often times, confidential informants are persons receiving some type of deferred prosecution due to their cooperation.  Understandably, informants usually request some type of reassurance that their identities remain undisclosed.

However, in Ohio, this privilege is not absolute.  If the confidential informant's identity is vital to the issue of guilt or innocence the court will order the informant to testify.  The state must reveal the informant's identity to a criminal defendant if the informant's testimony either (1) is critical to establishing an element of the crime or (2) would be helpful or beneficial to the defendant in preparing or making a defense.

It is important to seek legal counsel before working with law enforcement as a confidential informant.  Often times the agreed terms are vaguely explained and the individual is not aware of exactly is asked of them.  DO NOT enter into any agreement until your attorney has the opportunity to discuss the agreement at length with the requesting police agency.