Every person who has been accused of a criminal offense has the right to present a defense to the charges they face. They can review the evidence the state has gathered with their defense attorney and either gather their own evidence and/or bring in experts to challenge the validity of the state’s claims.
Unfortunately, not every criminal defendant receives a truly fair trial. It is quite common for prosecutors and investigators to take questionable steps when trying to hold someone accountable for criminal activity. When all the state has is circumstantial evidence, sometimes they will bring in a confidential informant to help solidify the case against a particular defendant. Although they may play a role in major cases including drug trafficking and homicide prosecutions, the testimony of confidential informants can often lead to grounds for an appeal following a conviction.
Defendants may not get a fair trial when a witness benefits from their conviction
A confidential informant could be someone currently incarcerated at the same facility as the defendant and awaiting trial, or they might be a known criminal from the local community who has an arrangement with local law enforcement. In some cases, an informant seeks out a specific person to try to get information from them. They may even act under the direct guidance of law enforcement officers in some cases.
Those who act as confidential informants could potentially receive a more lenient sentence or avoid prosecution altogether because they cooperated in the prosecution of someone else’s offense. Confidential informants could very well exaggerate or outright fabricate the testimony that they provide against a defendant. There have been numerous cases historically in which a confidential informant later retracted their statements, leading to a successful appeal.
Misconduct and errors can help after a conviction
The best means of fighting back after a criminal conviction will certainly depend on an individual’s charges and exactly what happened during the trial. For those who ended up convicted when the evidence was largely circumstantial or relied heavily on a confidential informant’s testimony, the quality of evidence in their case could play a role in their appeal proceedings.
Discussing the circumstances leading to someone’s conviction with a seasoned legal professional can help them determine the best strategy for a criminal appeal.