Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Defending Against Controlled-Buy Drug Cases in Iowa and Illinois

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Criminal Law in General » Defending Against Controlled-Buy Drug Cases in Iowa and Illinois

In many drug cases filed by prosecutors in Illinois and Iowa, part of the evidence will be an alleged controlled buy.  Such cases can be difficult to defend against, yet also present useful opportunities that can make it easier to fight the case.A controlled buy using a confidential informant often follows this procedure: A confidential informant – usually someone who is facing charges themselves and trying to cooperate to make those charges go away – will be strip searched to ensure they are not in possession of any drugs, then given money by the police whose serial numbers have been recorded.  That informant is that watched by the police as they go into a building or vehicle to purchase drugs from a person suspected of drug dealing.  The police then watch the informant leave, search them for drugs/money, and then base the idea that they have enough for charges upon that sequence of events.  Sometimes, the informant will have worn a video or audio recording device as well.


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The reason the police will employ that approach with a confidential informant is to try and make it so that the credibility of the informant is not at issue in the case.  The hope, on the part of the police, is that the fact that police officers searched the informant for drugs before hand will eliminate the possibility that the informant planted drugs to frame the suspected drug dealer.  Similarly, the act of having the police watch the informant as he or she goes to the buy location is also intended to prevent the informant from getting drugs from another source than the suspected drug dealer.

The reason the police will go to such lengths to try and take the credibility of the confidential informant out of the equation is obvious – the confidential informant is almost always a person who was caught by the police engaging in some criminal activity and agreed to work with the police to avoid charges or reduce the severity of their charges.  As such the confidential informant has every reason to lie and plant drugs to help themselves out.  Such a person may also be a convicted felon, which further reduces their credibility.

From a defense perspective, there is much that can be done to address those facts and fight a case where a controlled buy is alleged to have occurred.  Effective approaches often involve efforts to demonstrate that the confidential informant had the opportunity to obtain drugs and plant them.  As just one example, the confidential informant may have gone to the alleged drug dealer’s house the day before for a social visit, stepped into the bathroom, planted drugs under the sink, and then retrieved those drugs the following day during the (faked) controlled buy.


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Those who are accused of drug dealing in Iowa or Illinois in cases where the prosecution claims a controlled buy has occurred should exercise their right to remain silent and promptly seek an attorney.  Handing cases that have alleged controlled buys can be complex, and it is important to handle them properly.


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