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What Is Entrapment?

One of the legal strategies at the disposal of criminal defense lawyers is a claim of entrapment, whether it be on the police or the government. Entrapment happens when a government agent (which also includes police officers) tricks an innocent person into performing a crime that he had no intention of committing prior to meeting these government agents. If the courts decide that the charges being leveled on the defendant was committed because of entrapment then the defendant cannot be convicted of the crime. Entrapment laws were formed as a way of stopping law enforcement agencies from abusing their authority by forcing people to commit a crime and then arresting them when they do it.

Entrapment charges usually happens around vice crimes, which include drugs, prostitution and gambling. Law enforcement agencies are allowed by law to allow their agents to pose as prostitutes, drug dealers, gambling bookies or other criminal types. It is actually not true that undercover agents have to reveal their true identities or who they work for if they are asked. Police entrapment is not applicable when an undercover agent shows a supply of drugs to a prospective buyer. The buyer will only commit the crime once he has closed the deal by buying the drugs. It is not consummated during the first contact with the undercover agent.

Law enforcement agents should be conscious about their limitations when conducting sting operations. This is important so that they will not be accused of entrapment. For example, an agent who pretends to be a prostitute should not start the conversation that would lead to the customer soliciting her.

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