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.