Do you really have the right to know your accuser?

I was watching America’s Most Wanted and I was confused. On the show, they preach the message on secrecy and promise that your identity will remain anonymous if you call in to give information.

Well, what if my neighbor committed murder. I knew he did. So I call in and ask to remain anonymous. In America, don’t we have the right to know your accuser. Technically in that situation, I would be the accuser. Is this somewhat of a double standard or do I have the wrong idea about this whole thing? It just seems to contradict.

I may be wrong, but wouldn’t the accuser in this case be the state? They are bringing the charges forward.

You have the right to know your accuser when you go to trial. (And I expect when charges are filed as well.) Unless the police can develop independent evidence, you would have to testify at the accused’s trial. You could not continue to be anonymous if charges are filed solely on the evidence you provide.

And in the case of America’s Most Wanted, these guys are already wanted. There is already evidence against them, and other accusers. You would merely be providing information on their location or identity, not accusing them of a crime yourself.

An informant may remain confidential for charging purposes. The Confrontation Clause only applies at trials.

In case anyone wants to read the language:

Note it guarantees the right to be confronted with all witnesses, as opposed to “accusers.” Whether that word choice makes any difference under the law I don’t know. I suppose it would be possible to be a “witness” against someone without “accusing” them of anything.

That’s why I’m wondering who, exactly, is the accuser, or even if that’s relevant in U.S. law. Is it the state? (i.e. - State of California vs. Joe Blow) or the victim of the crime? Or irrelevant?

Any prosecution witness is covered by the rule.

Note that the Confrontation Clause is one basis for the hearsay rule, and there are well-delineated exceptions to the hearsay rule.

Providing information for investigative activity is one thing. You may be called to testify in court and the accused then gets to face you as the accuser.

We were discussing Crime Stoppers and how you could make an anonymous tip and collect a reward upon arrest and conviction. Somebody said that you would have to testify at the trial and would no longer be anonymous, yet I see announcements in the paper “Caller 1234 call Crime Stopper, you are eligible for a reward”. Well, if caller 1234 had to testify at a trial to get a conviction, looks like they wouldn’t need the anonymous ID code any more. They would be on public record and Crime Stoppers could just write them a check. I really don’t understand all of this.

Presumably if you are giving tips anonymously, you aren’t getting a reward. The police may agree to keep your name out of the public eye, but you probably weren’t anonymous.

That said, I agree with everyone else out here. On AMW, you are simply helping the cops find someone. Unless you also happened to be a witness to the alledged crime, you wouldn’t need to testify. After all. what would be be testifying to? That you saw the accused in a mini mart getting a slurpee six months after the alleged crime was committed?

Technically though, you do not always have the right to face your accuser. Some states do allow children to testify by video or behind closed doors. They can’t be anonymous, but they don’t have to show up in court.

Obviously, the conviction must have been on the basis of evidence other than testimony provided by the tipster.

If you tell the cops that you think someone is selling drugs from their home, and they stake out the place and get evidence themselves independently of the information you provided, you presumably could be eligible for the reward even if you don’t testify yourself.

Okay, let’s say some guy shot someone in California in public in front of 20 people, he was captured on video camera, and they have a DNA match from blood that he left on the scene (having suffered a paper cut moments earlier) in addition to forensic evidence from the firearm. He flees California and starts working as a professional paper macheist in central Idaho at the old Central Idaho Paper Mache Factory.

America’s Most Wanted does a program on this wanted paper macheist and one of his coworkers calls him in to the program. He gets arrested in Idaho, extradited back to California, etc. At the trial, the coworker that phoned in to America’s Most Wanted isn’t going to be testifying at the trial, the coworker has no relavant knowledge of the actual crime, and therefore the accused has no right to cross-examine or get testimony from the coworker.

The coworker’s identity can remain secret and the coworker can gather the money reward annonymously.

The OP’s question was in reference to the show “America’s Most Wanted,” and in almost every case, they are not looking for witnesses to a crime, they are looking for missing criminals. The people who respond would never need to testify. Most of those people have already been charged with a crime, and many have already been convicted.

As to the broader sixth amendment issue, you have the right to confront witnesses against you at trial. You also have the right to know all of the information that the state has collected in its investiigation of the crime that you were charged with. The way that programs like Crimestopper work is that they collect tips from people anonymously. Let’s say that you call up to report that you saw somebody throwing a body into a dumpster. The police could use that tip as probable cause and even at trial withhout revealing your identity because they don’t know who you are.

Providing information leading to the apprehension of someone accused or indicted of a crime is not a part of the accusatory process, but rather aiding in the arrest process. The issue before the court, when the trial actually occurs, is whether or not the accused performed criminal act X at place Y at time Z – not whether he was arrested for the crime at place P at time Q and who assisted in the arrest.

I know a young lady who was approached by a beggar who stabbed her with an AIDS-infected needle after she gave him money. During the resulting trial, he requested the court give him her name and address, and they did (I assume this was his right per the above discussions). She was so frightened by this development that she moved - in fact I helped her move. I gather the court was not obligated to help him track her after the trial was over.

I don’t think she’s heard from him since, or at least not recently. She was closely monitored and tested for years before they decided she was definitely not infected.

This is off the point, but she’s one of two AIDS stabbing victims I knew, and both contracted the disease by being attacked with a contaminated needle. The other lady was a nurse treating a prisoner, and when the guy got hold of the needle both guards backed off and let him have her. This lady didn’t survive.

I understand that being attacked with an AIDS contaminated needle is a very rare way of getting exposed to the disease. It’s odd both cases I knew of were in this category.

Huh? You said the first friend was definitely not infected, then in the next sentence you said she contracted the disease. Sorry for continuing the hijack, but your story didn’t make any sense.

>Huh? You said the first friend was definitely not infected, then in the next sentence you said she contracted the disease. Sorry for continuing the hijack, but your story didn’t make any sense.

I know, I’m sorry. I reworded something and missed part of it as I typed. Loose wire in the brain or something. Pardon me.

Instead of “and both contracted the disease” I meant to say “and both were esposed to the disease”.

Only the nurse contracted it.

Do Confidential Informants have to testify before a Grand Jury? The defendant isn’t present in that venue and in all likelyhood, not been charged until the jury decides there is enough evidence to proceed further.

Enough witnesses need to testify before the grand jury to establish probable cause. This may, but does not have to, include confidential informants.