Government Snitches and Policing Procedures

Subject: Law
Pages: 1
Words: 281
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College

Using informants – that is, the witnesses who testify in exchange for an incentive – has long been a part of the common law and, in particular, the American legal system. Snitches, as they are also known, are used regularly when their testimony helps to build a stronger case.

Naturally, the courts are aware that incentives can lead to deceit in informants (Neuschatz et al., 2020). However, a mere suspicion that an incentive may influence a snitch to offer a false testimony is not enough in itself to consider the practice wrong. However, what is crucial in this respect is that the jurors should be aware of the incentive behind the testimony, which is not always the case (Neuschatz et al., 2020). Thus, it is permissible for the government to use snitches, but they, as well as other informants, should be obligated to disclose their incentives before the court.

Regarding policing procedures, there are reasons to disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision in Illinois v. Wardlow, stating that an unprovoked flight in high criminal activity area suffices as a cause for reasonable suspicion. The problem with this decision is that the Fourth Amendment already provides a clear standard for a police seizure in probable cause. What Illinois v. Wardlow and other cases, such as Terry v. Ohio or California v. Hodari D., replace it with “reasonable articulable suspicion” (Gardner, 2020, 867). Since the reasonable articulable suspicion standard has a much wider application than the probable cause standard, one can assume it goes beyond the boundaries of authority for police set in the Constitution. Hence, to reiterate it once again, there are reasons to disagree with Court’s decision in Illinois v. Wardlow.


Gardner, T. G. (2020). Police violence and the African American procedural habitus. Boston University Law Review. Web.

Neuschatz, J. S., DeLoach, D. K., Hillgartner, M. A., Fessinger, M. B., Wetmore, S. A., Douglass, A. B., Bornstein, B. H. & Le Grand, A. M. (2020). The truth about snitches: An archival analysis of informant testimony. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. Web.