4 Factors Used to Determine Release oF Informers Identity In Texs Criminal Cases

Criminal informants often become part of Texas criminal cases. This is especially true in drug dealing prosecutions. The police use confidential informants to secure search warrants which will often lead to the recovery of illegal drugs, guns, cell phones and other items that can be viewed as evidence of drug transactions. The police and prosecutors want to keep the confidential informants identities secret for as long as possible. If the criminal attorney attempts to discover the identity  of the confidential informant the prosecutors will invoke the Identity of Informer Privilege found in Rule 508 of the Texas Rules of Evidence.

Under the law the trial court may require the disclosure of an informers identity if it appears that he or she can give testimony necessary to a fair determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused.  In order for the court to order the prosecutor to turn over the name of the informant the criminal attorney must establish a need for the disclosure. Here are 4 factors the courts consider when making the determination to release an informers name.

1. The privilege will not yield to a fishing expedition from the defense attorney.

2. The defense attorney can not just speculate that the informer may help the defendant but must bring the court some evidence supporting that argument.

3. The evidence presented by the defense needs only to make a plausible showing the informer could give testimony necessary to a fair determination of guilt or innocence.

4. If the defense does not establish the importance of the informers testimony the trial court does not need to balance the competing interest or conduct an in camera hearing.

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