Q: Can the FBI take an arrestee away from the police?

If the FBI, for example, has an informant (non-FBI employee, member of a criminal gang), and the police, without coordinating with the FBI, arrest him, can the FBI take that informant out of custody, given that he is involved in a special FBI operation and they need him? Do they need to ask the state's attorney or anyone else for permission to do so? Can the FBI thus relieve the informant of the responsibility imputed to him by the police?

If the FBI has such options, what are the regulations governing them?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: When the FBI is involved in a case with an informant who gets arrested by local police, the situation requires careful coordination between federal and local law enforcement agencies. If the FBI deems it necessary to take their informant out of local police custody due to his involvement in a federal operation, they typically engage in discussions with local authorities and may require the consent of the state's attorney or a federal prosecutor to facilitate the transfer. This process often involves legal and bureaucratic steps to ensure that all actions are properly documented and justified within the framework of the law.

The FBI can request the transfer of the informant to federal custody, but this does not automatically relieve the informant of responsibility for any crimes charged by local authorities. The resolution of the informant's legal issues might involve negotiations between federal and state prosecutors, potentially leading to reduced charges or alternative arrangements based on the informant's cooperation and value to the FBI's investigation. These negotiations are subject to legal standards and prosecutorial discretion.

The regulations governing these actions include federal statutes and guidelines that outline the cooperation between federal and state law enforcement agencies, as well as procedures for handling informants. These guidelines are designed to protect the integrity of investigations while also respecting the jurisdiction and autonomy of local law enforcement. It's essential for all parties involved to navigate these situations with a clear understanding of legal boundaries and the importance of interagency cooperation.

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