insider information | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

Insider information in criminal justice is confidential data about a crime known by those connected to the crime or its investigation.

In essence, this is the key to the secrets of a crime. It is the jigsaw puzzle piece that can turn an unsolvable case into a clear picture. The person holding this information can give exclusive details about a crime, such as who did it and how it was done. Besides, they might know about the investigation’s progress or legal proceedings related to the crime.

For instance, imagine a burglary took place in a secure, high-tech facility. An insider might know the building’s security protocols, such as alarm codes or guard schedules, which may be pertinent information for investigators. This information is the insider information that we are talking about.

Who Can Obtain Insider Information?

Different people involved in a crime can gain insider information. Law enforcement officers, like the police or detectives, can learn such details during their investigation. Prosecutors who are building a case against an accused person may also have this type of information. Defense attorneys, who are trying to protect their clients, often have access to confidential information about a case.

Even witnesses, who have seen the crime happen or have knowledge about the participants, can possess insider information. Think about a person who saw a hit-and-run accident and noticed a unique bumper sticker on the fleeing car. That detail is information that could be vital in tracking down the suspect.

Criminal Offenses

Insider information can sometimes fall into the wrong hands and lead to criminal activity. An example of this is insider trading, where someone uses confidential information to make money on the stock market. This is a criminal offense and can lead to serious consequences like imprisonment or hefty fines.

Ethical and Professional Standards

It’s important to remember that even when insider information is not used for illegal purposes, it can still breach ethical or professional standards. For instance, consider an attorney who finds out that their client has committed a crime. If they use this information to their advantage, such as winning a case, they could face severe repercussions.

Professional groups like the Bar Association have strict rules about how attorneys can use insider information. Violating these rules can lead to disciplinary action, including losing the right to practice law.


The concept of insider information is a complex one. It can be a crucial tool in solving a crime or ensuring justice. However, it also carries the potential for misuse and unethical behavior. Therefore, it is crucial to manage and control the access and use of insider information effectively. This ensures that our criminal justice system remains fair, efficient, and trusted.

To sum it up, insider information is a vital part of the criminal justice process. However, it is equally important to handle it responsibly and ethically. Those who misuse this information risk not only legal penalties but also professional and ethical sanctions. And those who use it correctly can help secure justice and maintain the integrity of our criminal justice system.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 05/25/2023

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