Exemption from Punishment
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When informants report to authorities, they can avoid criminal charges even if they have committed a crime. Leniency to criminal informants is given based on legal policy and public interest. Leniency encourages other offenders to work with authorities to help infiltrate and apprehend members of organised criminal groups. Informants’ reports should be adequate and lead to the capture of other criminals. If the informant’s report doesn’t help the authorities catch the informant’s accomplices or fails to show their link to the crime, the informant won’t get any leniency.
The law differentiates between two scenarios set out in legislation regarding the circumstances behind an informant’s report.
Where an informant makes a report before the authorities are aware of the crimes committed, the informant will automatically be granted a total exemption from prosecution.
If the informant makes a report after being caught participating in illegal activities, the court won’t automatically excuse them from prosecution.
Judges will only exempt apprehended informants if the informant’s report leads directly to the arrest of the informant’s criminal accomplices. However, judges will consider the facts of the case as a whole when ordering the exemption of informants from prosecution. The informant’s culpability for the crimes committed determines whether the judge will provide a total exemption or allow leniency in the informant’s sentencing.
In the following case, two defendants were charged with being in possession of counterfeit money with the intention of distributing it.
At the trial, the defendants argued to be exempt from prosecution since after their arrest they had informed the authorities of their accomplices. Their report directly led to the apprehension of the remaining offenders and the seizure of counterfeiting machines and counterfeit money. The court decided to exempt the accused from punishment because their statements were actionable and were considered bona fide under the applicable legislation.
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