Snitching: Here we go again

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Update: Scott clarifies (in the comments here and in this post) his definition of “rats”. He says he’s referring to defendant X who is guilty of crime 1, who, in exchange for a light prison sentence, tells the government about defendant Y who committed crime 2.

If only it were that simple. Sure that scenario arises, but how do you know that before you represent him? What about the scenario where defendant X and defendant Y might be guilty of crime 1. Defendant X wants to plead guilty because he’s got a long record, evidence is murky and there’s a chance that he might be convicted. At that point, he wants a lesser sentence, so he offers to testify against defendant Y. Is he a snitch? If so, why would you not represent him? By not representing him, are you not doing a disservice to the client that hired you?

Or is the dividing line that your client must be willing to testify against someone else committing only a different crime? I guess I still don’t understand (or perhaps I don’t believe that this the case).

Original post: The story that never dies: Snitching. Should you or shouldn’t you? That is the question that has been bandied about the “practical blawgosphere” for months now and has returned with a vengeance. This morning, after Norm’s latest post, Scott got all atwitter.

SO. Instead of rehashing everything said in the last day (and last few months), I’ll ask this of those that will not represent snitches: What do you mean by snitching? Is it purely co-operation with State in the prosecution of another? Does it include a third-party defense (as in testifying “I didn’t do it, my buddy did”) and what is the difference between the two?

I’ll give you my answer: There is none. Testifying on the stand that you didn’t commit a crime, but you know who did and that person is X, is akin to testifying at the trial of X that X committed the crime.

So you do non-snitchers draw that distinction? If not, why not?

Image from this site.

3 thoughts on “Snitching: Here we go again

  1. Scott Greenfield

    A rat isn’t an innocent person (who we might otherwise call a witness). A rat is a person who did the crime but, to get out from under, will give up someone else on some other crime. That’s who we’re talking about.

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  2. Malum

    I concur with Scott’s definition of a rat but am unsure if he distinguishes between a rat and a snitch in his definition. If your innocent and you know who did it then you should exonerate yourself and you are neither a rat or a snitch. But if your guilty and implicate a co-defendant then your a snitch. Now if you provide information about someone involved in a separate crime for no reason other than to get a lighter sentence then your a rat.

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