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Relating to the use of in-custody informant testimony in a criminal trial.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 2631 would require a pretrial hearing in a criminal case for various violent felonies on the admissibility of an in-custody informant’s testimony. The judge would have to find, by clear and convincing evidence, that any benefit offered by the prosecution to the informant would not unduly influence their testimony, a juror could find the informant to be credible, and the value of the testimony is not outweighed by unfair prejudice to the defendant. The judge would also have to consider various factors, including the benefits offered to the informant, any benefits offered for testimony in the past, and any information relevant to the credibility of the informant.
If the testimony of an in-custody informant is approved, HB 2631 would require the trial jury to determine whether any benefits offered to the informant unduly influenced their testimony and whether the testimony was truthful before using it.
Texas Action supports HB 2631 because it would protect the individual liberty of defendants and limit prosecutorial abuse. The testimony of inmates is often tainted due to parole benefits offered to them by prosecutors. Such unreliable testimony is a contributing cause to wrongful convictions and unfair criminal prosecutions. HB 2631 would limit the use of in-custody informants in serious felony trials, preventing much unreliable testimony from being used to put defendants in prison.