On television, confidential informants (CIs) help to put the bad guys behind bars, right? Except that, even Hollywood sometimes depicts these individuals as self-serving criminals who are willing to say and do whatever it takes to secure a better deal for themselves and their own legal hassles. And since the use of these informants is basically unregulated by courts, law enforcement has free reign as they wheel and deal in order to “prove” their cases and nab their suspects.
The incentive to lie is indisputable in most cases because CIs generally work under a give-and-take agreement: information is exchanged for benefits—like perhaps some assistance with their own legal perils. If an informant can significantly reduce their own time behind bars by giving investigators the juice they are looking for, why not? If law enforcement does not validate information by corroborating with another trustworthy source who is not getting a benefit for the testimony, why wouldn’t an informant who could use a little good luck, or one who battles addictions or other mental health issues, make a deal to improve their circumstances even if they have to embellish a little bit?