The activities of an informant are glamorized in movies and on television as dangerous, exciting, and dramatic. The informant can be the key witness everyone relies upon, so they are respected as powerful. Police appreciate this image of an informant, so it is not uncommon for police to appeal to this sense of adventure in saying, “Give us three and we’ll set you free.”
The promise can sound enticing and attractive. The client may be facing arrest for possession (of illegal drugs) for sales and is no longer eligible for Prop 36 or PC 1000 diversion programs. The client may have been caught “red handed” and without any real defense. Or the client may be young and naïve enough for the police to manipulate into unwanted confessions. Lastly, the client may be facing a third strike with an indeterminate sentence of twenty-five years to life. In short, police may have an anxious individual eager to reduce his exposure or walk out of the police station.
The fundamental problem with the police offer of being an informant is that the police are neither the prosecutor nor the judge. The police do not have such power. They cannot control the district attorney or the judge.
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