In Florida, many drug trafficking and other drug crimes start when a confidential information gives information to the police about a suspect. Normally, a person is arrested for a drug crime or some other crime, and in order to improve his/her position, he/she gives information to the police about some other person allegedly involved in criminal activity. A confidential informant is exactly what it sounds like. It is a person who gives information to the police who wants to remain secret. The police also want to keep his identity secret so the person can continue to have access to the suspect without suspicion and also to protect him/her from retaliation.
In many cases, once the police get the information from the confidential informant (CI), the police go and begin their own investigation to include surveillance, undercover drug buys and search warrants. They make their drug case based on what the police observe through the surveillance, drug buys and searches. They do not necessarily use the CI to make the new case; they use him/her for preliminary information to begin their investigation. In other words, while the CI provided the information, he/she was not involved in the investigation that resulted in the charges. If this is the case, the state may not have to reveal the identity of the CI. The criminal defense lawyer may file a motion requesting the identity of the CI, but the discovery rules in Florida protect a CI from disclosure. The general rule is the state does not have to disclose the identity of the CI unless the state plans to have the CI testify at a hearing or trial. If the CI made an undercover buy or was integral to the conduct that resulted in the pending charges, it is likely that the state would have to reveal his/her identity at some point. However, if the CI was just used for information and the case was made by the police, the defendant may never know the identity of the CI throughout the course of the case.