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entrapment - what are your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by spacemanspiff, Sep 16, 2004.

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  1. spacemanspiff

    spacemanspiff Senior Member

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    entrapment - what is your thoughts?

    how do you view 'entrapment'? when it comes to our gun-culture, we are adamant about our belief that state and federal agencies should be using only constitutional means to catch criminals.

    but does the type of crime involved affect the use of 'entrapment'?

    can we really justify the use of entrapment by law enforcement on any type of crime?

    i'll divulge more of my thought process once i've heard the opinions of some others, and discuss why i brought it up.
     
  2. Tall Man

    Tall Man Member

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    I'd like to see a THR member concensus on the practical defintion of entrapment, prior to discussing spiff's question.

    TM
     
  3. Gordon Fink

    Gordon Fink Member

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    Inciting someone to commit a crime is a crime itself. As with all things, cops should not be above the law.

    ~G. Fink
     
  4. Das Pferd

    Das Pferd Member

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    I view entrapment as (as well as the governments view I believe) getting someone to do something they would not normally do or normally think of doing.

    Case in point with John DeLorean. The man had huge financial problems. He was then approached by government agents posing as drug dealers. They offered some large sum of money if he did this one thing knowing full well that many people who had never done anything wrong might take their offer because of their financial situation. He did not have this idea until the gov appraoched him and would not have done something similar if not approached. Thats entrapment.
     
  5. JPL

    JPL Member

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    How did the DeLorean case end up?

    Was he convicted, or acquitted?
     
  6. Archie

    Archie Member

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    In legal terms....

    "Entrapment" is an affirmative defense to a crime.

    The conditions are that the law enforcement agency or agent thereof must instigate the crime. The suspect would not have been involved bur for the actions of the LE agency or agent.

    F'rinstance, a traffic cop cannot challange someone to a drag race and then cite that someone for excessive speed or reckeless driving, as a result of the race.

    A vice cop cannot approach a woman, offer money for sex and then arrest for prostitution if she accepts.

    "Entrapment" is different than 'setting a trap'. Setting up a surveillance on a commonly robbed store is a trap, but not entrapment. Walking down a street infamous for prostitutes and allowing a woman to offer sex for money is a trap, but not entrapment.

    Okay, now what is the real question here? To what entrapment do you refer?
     
  7. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    There's a world of difference in American law between the corrupt and the corruptible—or at least, there used to be.
     
  8. Das Pferd

    Das Pferd Member

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    "When John DeLorean, owner of the (then about to fail)
    DeLorean Motor Company, was arrested and tried for selling cocaine, he
    was found not guilty by reason of the defense of entrapment because,
    the jury determined, the police took advantage of the fact that his
    failing company made him a desperate individual. The police sent in an
    undercover officer to offer him a bag of cocaine to sell to raise
    money to save his company. The entire idea for the crime came from the
    police; they provided the instrumentality (the coke); and John
    DeLorean probably would never in his life have sold drugs to anybody
    if the police hadn't shown up to offer him the drugs to sell at the
    exact right time."

    Its one of the first lessons of entrapment in most Criminal Justice classes.
     
  9. spacemanspiff

    spacemanspiff Senior Member

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    i'd define it as the willful act of inciting or encouraging someone into doing something that is not their idea, for the purpose of charging them with a crime.

    maybe i've read 'Unintended Consequences' one time too many, but have ATF agents ever tried to get people to commit the crime of discussing how to create a full auto firearm?

    i know that up here one of the law enforcement agencies will employ minors to attempt to purchase alcohol without showing ID to a store clerk, and if the clerk asks them for it, they are instructed to try and talk the clerk into selling it to them anyways.
    its been done with stores selling tobacco products as well.
     
  10. 41mag

    41mag Member

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    I didn't care for the movie either.;)
     
  11. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    That was my understanding as well. Essentially, the cops can’t commit a crime in order to affect some criminal liability upon a person.
     
  12. dustind

    dustind Member

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    No.
     
  13. spacemanspiff

    spacemanspiff Senior Member

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    suppose the crime is that of a heinous nature.

    the reason i brought it up is that i know a person who is applying for a position with a states law enforcement agency, that would employ her to help capture sexual predators from internet communications, chat rooms, etc.

    without going into the details of where, when, and how, the entire scenario struck me as being Entrapment. but its for a good cause, right? to help get the bad guys off the streets.

    if entrapment is unconstitutional when its used against johns soliciting prostitutes, or against drug dealers, what makes it right to use against pedophiles?

    edit - my position does not in any way shape or form sympathize with sexual predators. they deserve to be caught and deserve to be removed from society. but i feel like a hypocrite for thinking that unconstitutional means of catching sexual predators is alright when i believe that other types of crimes should never justify the use of entrapment as a tactic to catch the criminals committing those types of crimes.
     
  14. Third_Rail

    Third_Rail Member

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    spiff, entrapment "for the children" is still entrapment, and it still shouldn't be done. IMO, anyway.
     
  15. jnojr

    jnojr Member

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    That isn't necessarily entrapment. Sounds like this person will go in chat rooms and pretend to be a minor. If some sicko who wants to bang kids sets up a meet, he'll get his 'nads hammered flat. Now, if she were to pretend to be a child and offer sex, that would be entrapment. But if the pervo offers, then all is well.
     
  16. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    I honestly don't see how someone can be "entrapped." If someone offers me $100 or an undercover LEO offers me $100,000 to convert a semi to full auto, it is still a crime if I do it. I know beforehand it is illegal. I might just want the money to buy a new toy or I may have some long sob story about needing it for a cancer operation, but it doesn't matter. Doing the conversion is illegal.

    If you commit a crime of you own free will, it isn't entrapment. You did it because you wanted something and decided to take the chance of breaking the law and not getting caught. DeLorean needed money and chose to go for a drug deal. He knew what he was doing was illegal and did it anyway because of greed. He is no different than any other person that decides to smuggle drugs to make money.
     
  17. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    What if you don't know you're committing a crime?
     
  18. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

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    There's a fine line, whether on the Internet or the street.

    If an LEO apprioaches a suspected prostitute and offers her money for sex, that's entrapment. If the same LEO walks/drives down the same street and a woman approaches him and asks if he wants to ___, that's not entrapment.

    I'm not sure how the Internet stuff will play out in court, but I often read newspaper accounts of LEOs who hang out on teenie bopper chat rooms pretending to be underage girls. IANAL but I'd guess that as long as they just play cutesy and wait for the alleged perv to make the first overture, it isn't entrapment.

    Personally, I do not think entrapment is ever justified, for any reason, at any time, in any place. That does not mean, however, that I think the police should not be "patrolling" the chat rooms looking for the guys who want sex with underage girls (or, for that matter, underage boys). I'm all in favor of taking those people off the streets and off the Internet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2004
  19. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

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    Spiffy if she looks that good on a spenard street corner, shes a cop:D

    WildoraguyAlaska
     
  20. Bruce H

    Bruce H Member

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    Law enforcement should not be going around trolling for somebody to commit a crime. There is enough actual crime committed that needs their attention. Asking a person to do something that is illegal on the chance they will do it is wrong. They do have a better case clearance rate when they already know who is going to do what though.
     
  21. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    My interpretation doesn't match what the legal profession says on that. As far as I am concerned, it takes intent to commit a crime. For example, violating one of the arcane "rulings" ATF has declared simply because you didn't know it was "illegal" isn't a criminal offense. If some guy that has never heard of 922(r) buys a folding stock for his SKS at a gun show, big deal.

    On the other hand, I believe the law says something to the effect, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse."

    I've always considered that semantics, not entrapment. If a LEO approaches a person he suspects to be a prostitute and through innuendo and body language makes the prostitute think he wants to pay for sex and gets her to agree, it is considered a good bust. If he simply walks up and makes a verbal offer to her and she agrees, it is entrapment.

    As a side note, anyone living in my area that is seeking the services of a prostitute, a good rule of thumb is that if she is good looking, she is an undercover LEO. :)
     
  22. zahc

    zahc Member

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    but see, the cops are coercing the person into committing the crime. The person would not have done the crime if they hadn't been coerced. It's kind of like forcing someone to sign something under threat of force.... if you coerced them then it's not legit, and i say if you coerced them into commiting the crime then the crime is not legit.....
     
  23. mercedesrules

    mercedesrules Member

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    I sure as heck don't want to pay them to promote crime and vice. :mad:

    Remember, Ruby Ridge was an entrapment to saw off a shotgun barrel .5 in. below the almighty limit. Several deaths. :rolleyes:

    To question: No, of course not - even in the internet example.
     
  24. sendec

    sendec member

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    A common law operating definition of entrapment is to induce an innocent person to commit an offense they would not otherwise commit, and as such is always wrong. Making an offer of money in exchange for sex is not entrapment because the person would decline if not predisposed to prostitution.

    On another note, the chat room example sounds a little hinky - typically the 13 year old blond haired blue eyed girl chattin up the pervs on the 'net are in actuality middle age overweight guys in Value City suits - been there done that. I've never heard of a female being hired just to run chatrooms, it actually sounds like some sort of reverse sting.

    The word coercion has been bandied about, and it too is a bright line bad thing. Offering somebody money or anything of value to break a law is not coercive - they can always say no, as could have Randy Weaver.
     
  25. DMF

    DMF Member

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    Entrapment is a legal defense, but it is unique in that it is an affirmative defense. Also, what one jury will consider entrapment, another may not.

    It's also important to remember that the entrapment defense requires the defendant to admit to committing the crime, and then PROVE that the only reason he committed the crime was that the government gave him unreasonable incentive to commit the crime. The key is unreasonable. The government is allowed to provide a reasonable incentive, and create an opportunity for someone to commit a crime. However, they cannot provide an incentives that would convince an otherwise law abiding citizen to break the law.

    AskJeeves turns up a decent brief explanation: "In jurisprudence, entrapment is a procedural defense by which a defendant may argue that they should not be held criminally liable for actions which broke the law, because they were induced (or entrapped) by the police to commit said acts. For the defense to be successful, the defendant must demonstrate that the police induced an otherwise unwilling person to commit a crime. However, when a person is predisposed to commit a crime, offering opportunities to commit the crime is not entrapment."

    It's a gamble for a defendant, because it requires they confess, and then shifts the burden of proof to the defense to show that the government acted improperly.

    A practical example is a drug deal in which a person offers to buy drugs at a price much higher than what would normally be expected. For example a UC offers to buy 100 pills of X at $20 per pill, and the local price is $15-$25. If the suspect refuses the deal, but the UC counters with $50 per pill, and the suspect affects, that case MAY be a good candidate for an entrapment defense, because it was such an unreasonable price that an otherwise innocent person may take that one deal to make quick cash. However, to attempt that defense the person will need to confess, and then prove that the government was unreasonable in their incentive. Big gamble for a defendant.

    However, real cases are not that clear cut because LE agents are not looking to create criminals, they are looking to catch real criminals. In addition most half way intelligent ( and most are only half way) won't accept outrageous deals because they will get suspicious.

    So no entrapment is not acceptable, and LE agencies do not attempt to entrap suspects because that creates a defense.
     
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