Houston Criminal Law Blog

EXPERIENCED. AGGRESSIVE. HOUSTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW FIRM: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp

What to Do if Law Enforcement Induced You To Commit a Crime

Law enforcement officers and investigators in the United States are expected to guide their actions by the terms of an oath they took when their careers started. The exact language of the oath will vary across jurisdictions, but moral character, honor and preserving the public trust are common elements. In other words, police officers and detectives are bound by ethical codes.

It is hard to imagine members of state or federal law enforcement agents inducing people to commit crimes. Such actions do not fit into the oath that these officers are sworn to upheld. The reality, however, is that the criminal justice system has become increasingly complex, and this means that law enforcement agents can now use tactics that they describe as proactive approaches to crime prevention. This is where the entrapment debate begins.

Defining Entrapment and Inducement

The Criminal Resource Manual of the United States Department of Justice defines entrapment as a criminal defense rather than a deliberate action. Federal law enforcement agents may resort to deceit, pretense, artifice, and solicitation to commit a crime in the course of their duties without compromising a criminal court case. To effectively introduce entrapment or inducement as a valid strategy, criminal defense attorneys must argue that some level of coercion or persuasion was used by law enforcement against their clients.

The Texas Penal Code takes a similar approach in defining entrapment. Law enforcement officers in Texas who use persuasion to convince suspects to commit a crime are engaging in entrapment; however, they are allowed to go undercover and offer suspects the opportunity to commit a crime.

Drug offenders often find themselves ensnared by the work of undercover police officers who pose as either dealers or buyers of controlled substances. These undercover agents can concoct just about any kind of story that will help them make an arrest, and that includes lying and using sophisticated artifice without having to worry about crossing the line into inducement.

Defending Against Entrapment

Attorneys who bring up the entrapment defense do not generally expect to make friends with the prosecution or law enforcement. The goal is to prove to the court that the defendant did not have a predisposition to commit the crime in the first place. It is important to examine the facts surrounding the case as well as the backgrounds of the police officers and investigators involved for the purpose of making the prosecution’s burden of proof even heavier.

If you have been entrapped or would like entrapment legal counsel, Call The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp at 713-868-6100.

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