When building a case involving one or more drug crimes, it is not uncommon for law enforcement authorities to conduct sting operations or use undercover decoys. In many drug cases, it is critical to actually catch an individual in the act of selling, or offering to sell, drugs in order to get sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.
The courts consider sting operations permissible law enforcement exercises as long as they are performed lawfully. There are cases where the undercover officer or decoy acts improperly or pressures the defendant into committing a crime that he or she would not otherwise commit. In these cases, the defense may be able to raise the defense of entrapment, arguing that the defendant did not commit the crime in a willful and voluntary manner.
In order to successfully assert entrapment as a viable defense when facing drug charges, the following key elements must be proven:
- The idea to buy or sell the drugs was initially conceived by the police, not the defendant.
- The undercover authorities urged and induced the defendant to purchase or sell the drugs.
- The defendant was not inclined or predisposed to buy or sell the drugs before law enforcement officials urged or induced the defendant to do so.
So if a police officer or undercover decoy approaches the defendant to purchase drugs and the decoy makes the verbal request, pays the money, accepts the drugs, and then leaves, this situation would likely not be considered entrapment. Since the decoy merely provided the opportunity for the target of the sting operation to commit a crime and the target acted on this opportunity.
On the other hand, if a police officer or decoy approaches the target who refuses to sell drugs, and the decoy pesters the target and apply pressure in order to get the target to sell drugs, thus coaxing the target to sell the drugs, the suspected drug dealer may have a viable case for the entrapment defense. For instance, if the decoy claims that he or she may die or suffer serious withdrawal symptoms if no drugs are given, or if the decoy continuously harasses the target until he or she relents and agrees to sell the narcotics, these examples may provide the defense with a valid entrapment defense since the defendant was inappropriately induced into committing a criminal offense.
Keep in mind, the entrapment defense only applies when the act is committed by a law enforcement official or by a person acting as an agent for law enforcement. It doesn’t apply to ordinary citizens who are not acting officially as agents of law enforcement.
If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Orlando, discuss your legal options with our experienced legal team at Longwell Lawyers today.