It is not uncommon for police to set up sting operations in Texas to catch criminals in the act. These stings help to present would-be criminals with easy opportunities to commit crime. Police must walk a fine line when encouraging the targets of these operations to commit criminal acts. Entrapment occurs when a person is manipulated and induced by police to commit a crime that, under ordinary circumstances, they would not have committed.
Have you recently been arrested for a crime in Houston? Did you commit the offense, but only engaged in that unlawful behavior because of police persuasion? If so, you may want to consider arguing that you have been the victim of entrapment. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for help. We will fight to protect your future by arguing that your actions were simply the result of police manipulation.
Affirmative Defenses in Texas
Deciding how to defend yourself against criminal charges is important. Many times, defense arguments rest on the premise that you did not commit the crime of which you are accused and/or that the state does not have sufficient evidence to meet its burden of proof. What happens if you are technically guilty of committing a crime, but have a reasonable explanation for your behavior? This is when the affirmative defense is a powerful tool.
Affirmative defenses differ from other defenses because you must acknowledge that you engaged in behavior that is typically against the law. However, you explain that there is a legal justification for your behavior that excuses you from criminal liability. Arguing an affirmative defense successfully can help you to minimize or escape the criminal consequences of your actions. Popular affirmative defenses include self-defense, mistake of fact, necessity, and entrapment.
What is Entrapment?
Entrapment is perhaps one of the most misunderstood legal concepts in the country. Many people tend to believe that you can argue entrapment if police were somehow involved in getting you to commit a crime. However, this is not necessarily true. Entrapment is only a defense if police abuse their authority and induce you to commit a crime that, under ordinary circumstances, you would never have committed.
Entrapment, as defined in Texas Penal Code Section 8.06, will be a valid defense to criminal prosecution, if you:
- Engaged in certain criminal behavior
- Because you were induced to do so by a law enforcement officer
- The law enforcement officer used persuasion or other means, and
- Those means were likely to cause you to commit the crime.
If you decide to argue entrapment, you have the burden of proving each element of this defense. At Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., we have the experience and resources to vigorously pursue this defense if it is applicable.
Actions of a Police Officer
Entrapment is only a valid defense if you were induced to commit a crime by a police officer. For the purposes of entrapment, a police officer is a member of local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies, as well as individuals acting “in accordance with instructions” from those agencies.
Opportunity vs. Inducement
Texas law plainly states that simply being presented with the opportunity to commit a crime is not a defense to criminal behavior. The defense of entrapment can only be successful if you can provide evidence showing that police actually did more than provide you with the opportunity to commit a crime. State law explains that you must have been “induced” by police. This can mean that you were manipulated, coerced, tricked, or otherwise convinced to commit a crime.
Persuasion or Other Means
Simply allowing all criminals who fall victim to sting operations to argue entrapment would basically make it impossible for police to set up traps for criminals. Entrapment is only intended to be a defense for innocent people who are manipulated by police into committing a crime. This generally only happens when police abuse their authority and engage in behavior that would be likely to cause an innocent person to engage in illegal behavior.
Whether or not police engaged in “persuasion or other means likely” to cause you to commit a crime will be a question of fact for the jury. The jury will consider what actions the police took and determine whether a reasonable person in a similar situation would have also been persuaded to commit a crime.
The following behaviors may be indicative of unlawful police persuasion:
- Offering a financial incentive to commit a crime
- Making threats of violence or force
- Involuntary intoxication
- Psychological manipulation, and
- Repeated and unrelenting demands to commit a crime.
Innocence and Entrapment
Entrapment is intended to protect innocent people from being punished for committing a crime that was a result of police inducement and persuasion. An essential argument in an entrapment defense, then, involves proving that you were an innocent person and simply the victim of police misconduct. You will be required to present evidence to establish that you would not have committed the crime if you had not been manipulated and/or tricked by police.
Factors that will be important in proving this innocence include:
- Lack of a criminal record
- Lack of history committing similar criminal acts, and
- Positive testimony from character witnesses.
Any evidence you can provide to show that you are normally a law-abiding citizen and/or would not typically engage in this type of criminal behavior will be helpful in your entrapment defense.
Entrapment or No Entrapment?
There is a fine line between when police behavior will constitute a lawful exercise of their authority and an improper use of persuasion. As a result, it can be tricky to understand when the defense of entrapment may apply.
Example #1: You get a little bit drunk at a bar with your friend and decide that you want to find some cocaine. A person at the bar overhears your conversation and explains that he knows someone who is dealing. They bring you around back where you meet someone who you believe is a dealer. You tell that person how much you want and exchange money for the drugs. As it turns out, the dealer is actually a police officer running a sting operation.
You cannot argue entrapment because you were not induced to commit a crime. The fact that the police officer lied to you is irrelevant since you were already prepared to commit the crime. Entrapment does not exist simply because you fell prey to a drug sting operation.
Example #2: Let's say you are back at the bar with your friends. This time, you are not really drinking too much and do not have any interest in buying cocaine. In fact, you are well-known for being very against drug use. However, you are approached by an undercover police officer who insists on buying you multiple drinks and gets you drunk. Over the course of the night, the undercover officer continues to encourage you to buy some drugs from his friend.
At one point you become so intoxicated and worn down by the officer's request that you agree to buy a small amount of drugs from his friend. You are arrested and charged with purchasing a controlled substance. You may have a decent argument for entrapment since you were induced and persuaded by police to commit a crime.
Arguing Entrapment in Houston
Have you been arrested for a crime that you only committed because you were tricked and manipulated by police? Contact Houston Board Certified criminal defense lawyer Doug Murphy to find out how he can help you prove that you were the victim of entrapment. When successfully argued, the defense of entrapment can allow you to escape criminal liability for otherwise-illegal behavior. Call us today at (713) 229-8333 or complete out an online form to schedule a free case evaluation with our skilled legal team.