It's not unusual to have clients come in after they have been indicted, and tell me they were never arrested. Or if they were arrested they were arrested for some minor charge, and indicted on a more serious charge. When they tell me that I know the story without them having to tell it.

In not unusual in Waco and McLennan County for the police to offer the individual an opportunity to avoid arrest in drug cases. They can do so by agreeing to provide information on people they know in the drug business. However, information is usually not enough; they usually want the person to "make" cases, which means making controlled purschases. The deal usually requires them to make a certain number of cases; the more serious the charge, the more cases you have to make.

Part of the deal usually includes a requirement to regularly check in with narcotics officer. By regular, I mean daily. They are anxious to make cases, and want to know you are our there working for them.

This usually happens when people are found with smaller amounts of dope. However, it can also occur when larger amounts are involved. I've seen individuals who would normally be arrested for possession with intent to distribute, but the officer only arrests them for possession. Or they may base the charge on a smaller amount than was actually found.

There are a number of potential problems associated with such an agreement. The obvious one is that you become an informant, and it's hard to hide that for too long. The other problem is it's hard to live up to what they expect you to do. I've seen very few people actually follow through with they were supposed to do. They may start with good intentions, but they eventually die out. The  police may also expect more of you than you can deliver, and you can't convince them otherwise.

If you enter into one of these agreements with the shortsighted goal of avoiding arrest, realize that the police are serious. They expect you to follow through, and if you don't they are. I see a lot of people who blew things off, and end up getting arrested or indicted later.

While it would be nice to talk with a lawyer before you make the decision, that never happens. You have to decide on the spot. Once you do, you have to work with that decision.

Many people are surpised to hear about these arrangments, and I'm always asked whether the police can do that; the answer is they can. You may view it as buying testimony or cooperation, but it's perfectly permissible. If you're in this situation you need to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer so you can not only know your options, but also what to expect.


Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.
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