A.  Bias or Motive of Snitch

              1) Any “Expected” Benefits or Concessions in Snitch’s Pending Case(s)

                            (what the Snitch is hoping for is what counts instead of what he really gets)

a) potential rewards that Snitch could obtain

i) dismissed or reduced charges

ii) sentence concessions

iii) consolidation or concurrent sentences

b) formal or informal deals

c) about pending charges or probation revocations

d) consider other jurisdictions as well as Federal “substantial assistance” game

e) consider promises made by police officers

f) consider potential penalties for all possible crimes faced by Snitch

g) Snitch’s case may unrelated to Client’s case

2) Protection from Future Prosecution 

(consider any criminal acts that could be prosecuted)  

                            a) Immunity (15A-1051 through 1055)

b) Promises not to prosecute the Snitch or family member/significant other

c) Such promises may include other jurisdictions and federal government

d) Such promises may be formal or informal

e) Such promises may be made by prosecutors or by law enforcement agents

f) Agreement that State/Government not to seek forfeiture of property

              3) Other Incentives to Cooperate with State:

a) Payment of cash for cooperation and method for determining payment

b) Promises regarding bond reduction or pretrial release

c) Whether snitch on probation or in prison at time of deal-cutting or testimony 

d) Prison privileges or protections, and special recommendations

e) Threats to file additional charges or charge family members

f) Deportation or immigration issues

                            g) Special favors or amenities

              4) Circumstances of Snitch’s Cooperation

                            a) Timing of Agreement…When and how did Snitch decide to snitch?

              i) after claims of innocence or coerced statements

              ii) after talking to other snitches and/or reading discovery

              iii) after learning of potential lengthy sentence

              iv) who visited snitch in jail and when may shed light on untruthful story

b) “Questionable Sources” of Snitch’s Information about Case

              i) collusion with other snitches about the case

              ii) reading discovery materials

              iii) the most culpable person now trying to downplay role

c) Prior Snitching Experience…knowledge of how to play the snitch game

i) involvement in other cases where deals cut (state or federal)

ii) prior experience as confidential informant or “Third Party Cooperator” 

iii) incidents where snitch was not prosecuted in past and reasons why not

5) Personal Motives, Bias, or Bad Feelings

a) toward defendant (or family/friends)

b) history of hostility or disagreements toward defendant (or family/friends)

                            c) acts of intimidation by snitch toward other witnesses              

                            d) gang/group membership or rivalry

e) relationships with other state’s witnesses or police officers

B.  Prior Convictions (Rule 609)

1) Felonies or Class A1, 1 and 2 Misdemeanors

2) Convictions outside 10-year time limit pertaining to credibility

3) Juvenile Adjudications relating to credibility or important issue

              4) Obtain all details of prior crimes…they may be useful for other purposes

C.  Specific Instances of Conduct Relating to Untruthfulness (Rules 608(b))

1) Lies, False Statements, and Dishonesty

2) Examples of such conduct:

                            a) False statements (about anything oral or written)

b) Use of False Names or Identity

                            c) False information on Indigency Affidavits

                            d) Letters in court file often contain false claims

e) False information in applications, leases, contracts, business dealings

                            f) Untrue information to prison or jail officials

g) False testimony in any matter

h) False information to employers or supervisors

3) False or broken promises to judicial officials such as:

              a) Violate plea agreement by FTA, drug use, or incurring new charges

b) Probation Violations/Revocations

                            c) Failures to Appear based upon written “promise to appear”             

D.  Inconsistent Case-Related Statements about the Case

…i.e., anything said or written by the Snitch to anyone

E.  Opinions or Reputation about Snitch’s Untruthfulness or Dishonesty

Possible sources: employers, neighbors, probation or parole officers, local police

officers, jailers, pretrial service officers, family members or former friends             

F.  Other Matters Including Anything Relevant to Credibility  (Rule 611 (b))

              1) Personal problems affecting credibility, memory, observation, or perception

                            i) Mental health history

                            ii) Drug and alcohol abuse history

                            iii) Medical problems

2) Any conduct that makes the Snitch look bad…Snitches often lie about unimportant

details to make themselves look good and open door to inadmissible details


A.  Public Records

1.  Criminal Records

              a.  Snitch’s CR/CRS Files: Run county-by-county check; then physically inspect all

contents of each file; certified copies of out-of-county convictions

              b.  Victim/Witness Inquiry on Snitch (can lead to domestic violence statements…

previous testimony)

c. NCDOC Website…Inmate’s prison and probation history, sentence details, photograph

if currently incarcerated, number of disciplinary infractions, and prison transfers

              d.  Federal Court CR/M files: Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh; public inquiry by

computer; inspect each file

e. Items of interest in criminal records:

i) personal information and names that will lead to other sources

                            ii) transcripts of proceedings of Snitch’s cases or prior testimony such as:

                                          i) plea and sentencing hearings

                                          ii) trial testimony from other cases (or Snitch’s case)

                                          iii) obtain court order for payment for transcripts

iii) Indigency Affidavits signed by Snitch with personal information

iv) pro se motions and Snitch’s letters to Judge

v) Sentencing Memoranda submitted at Snitch’s sentencing

vi) Motions/affidavits made by Snitch’s lawyer (“agent”)

                            vii) details of prior crimes and probation violations

                            viii) “statements” made by Snitch as prior prosecuting witness

ix) federal preliminary examinations, detention hearings, Rule 11 hearings,

                                          and sentencing hearings

                            x) state magistrate bond findings…may include snitch’s statement to official



2.  Civil Records

              a.  CV/CVS files (civil suits, *domestic cases in which snitch was plaintiff or defendant)             

              b.  “M” files (small claims, landlord-tenant disputes)

              c. Special Proceedings (SP) files (names changes, mental commitment lists)

              d. Business records: county’s register of deeds (UCC filings, real estate, local corporate

records) and NC Secretary of State (corporate filings)

3.  Other Administrative Records

              a. DMV records (by computer inquiry): Can lead to other pertinent information such as

individuals’ locations, vehicle sales transactions involving snitch, name of leinholder (who will have a credit application)

b.  Jail records of Snitch (Some are public but court order/subpoena will be necessary for

others.  See section III.C below.)

c.  U.S. Bureau of Prisons…Obtain USM number from judgment, contact Inmate

Locator Service (  Public information is limited. 

              d.  Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from federal officials:  Needs to be

submitted early since it usually takes several weeks or months (start with

4.  Internet searches such as Google or Accurint…or personal postings like Facebook

5.  ANY documents, letters, applications, etc. written by Snitch

B.  Private Records or Documents

1.  Juvenile court records from clerks’ office and juvenile counselor (per court order)

2.  Probation records of Snitch (per court order)

3.  Jail records of Snitch (some are public and court order/subpoena needed for others):

                            a) Visitation Logs (who visited Snitch when)

b) Personal Property Inventory List (what snitch had on him upon admission)

c) Inmate List by Cellblock (identifies Snitch’s jail neighbors)

d) Jail Disciplinary Records

e) Medical or Sick Call Records

4. NCDOC Prison Records including custody records, study and study performance, work and

work performance, disciplinary, counseling, psychological, psychiatric, medical, and any and all other matters in DOC file.  (DOC requires a court order with a non-disclosure to third party clause.)

5. Personal Records  (per court order or release of information signed by Snitch)

              a.  Mental Health records

              b.  Drug Abuse/Treatment records

              c.  Medical/EMS records (Snitch will usually say something to EMS technicians)

              d.  Employment records

              e.  Military records

6.  Case-Related Documents under State’s Control: 

“Statements [written or oral]…notes…or any other matter or evidence obtained during

the investigation of the offenses alleged….”  N.C.G.S. 15A-903(a)(1)             

a. Snitch’s prior “statements” or memoranda of interviews

              b. Officers’ and ADA’s notes of all contacts with Snitch

              c. Notes of contact or letters from Snitch’s attorney or Snitch’s family to state officials

              d. Grand Jury testimony (if any; feds often call snitch before GJ)

              e. Polygraph test answers

f. Prior experience as Snitch (or CI): some jurisdictions have written contracts;

some agencies keep a personnel file for informants (they have to if public $ spent)

g. Records of Monetary Payments (SBI keeps records, local agencies should do the same)

h. Deals or Promises made by DA’s Office or Law Enforcement (see Part I.A.1-4 above)

              i. Any “proffers” or disclosures of cooperation made to State

              j. Immigration status of Snitch from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly

INS…ICE will release information to state prosecutor upon request or information can be requested via FOIA.)

              k. Jail telephone calls…most local jail record inmates’ calls

C.  INTERVIEWING People Familiar with the Snitch

1. The Snitch (if unrepresented or with attorney’s permission)

2. Snitch’s lawyer

3. Snitch’s Co-Defendants or Accomplices (or their lawyers)

4. Cellblock neighbors

5. Snitch’s Co-Defendants or Accomplices from previous cases

6. Victim’s of Snitch’s crimes and witnesses against Snitch from previous cases

7. Family members, friends, and significant others of Snitch

8. Employers and co-workers (*ask for employment records or job applications)

9. Landlords and neighbors (*ask for leases or applications)

10. Creditors (*ask for loan applications)

11. Police officers (past and present cases)

12. Probation officers (and pre-trial release officers)

13. Jailors

14. Bondsmen

* If anyone has any additions or suggestions, please contact me.

                                                                                    Michael G. Howell

                                                                                                  Assistant Capital Defender

                                                                                                  123 West Main Street, Suite 601

                                                                                                  Durham, NC 27702

                                                                                                  (919) 560-5837, ext. 230


                                                                                                  March 21, 2008