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Posted on May 8, 2013 by Law Office of Brett A Podolsky
Police officers sometimes work undercover or perform “sting” operations in order to catch criminals. There is a very fine line between performing an investigation and entrapment. Entrapment occurs whenever law enforcement agents induce an individual to commit a crime that he or she normally would not have committed.
Undercover officers who merely provide an opportunity for people to break the law are not usually committing entrapment. When they use unscrupulous techniques such as threats, coercion, fraud or harassment, this could be crossing the line into entrapment. The key to determining this is whether or not an officer’s actions would have caused a reasonable person to commit the same crime when faced with an identical situation.
Using Entrapment as a Legal Defense
In order to use entrapment as a defense in Texas, the accused must prove that:
- Government agents used undue persuasion to convince him or her to commit the crime
- The acts were not ones that would normally have been committed
In response to allegations of entrapment, the prosecution may attempt to introduce evidence that would show that individual was predisposed to committing similar acts. For example, one’s past criminal history could be admitted or testimony given as to the defendant’s moral character.
Burden of Proof
A defendant who is raising allegations of entrapment has the burden of proving this in a court of law. He or she must show jurors by a “preponderance of the evidence” that entrapment took place. Preponderance of the evidence is a lesser bar than reasonable doubt, and means it is more likely than not that the event took place. Defendants must also show that it was a government agent and not another actor that persuaded or convinced him or her to commit a particular crime.
Aside from entrapment, there could be an affirmative defense available if police misconduct occurred during a criminal investigation–even if the defendant was not involved in these unethical acts. This could amount to a number of things including taking bribes, falsifying documents or abusing controlled substances. Unethical conduct by police officers could also be used to create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors as to the validity of their statements.
Police may not use unscrupulous methods in order to “catch” someone in the middle of a criminal act, and this includes entrapment.
If you suspect that you may be the victim of unscrupulous police conduct, schedule a free consultation with Brett Podolsky at 713-227-0087.