Police entrapment is a term that gets tossed around a lot but is often misunderstood. Television and movies tend to inspire these myths, which results in people not knowing when they actually are victims of police entrapment.
False: The Police Cannot Ask You to Commit a Crime
An undercover cop asks you to do something illegal. Gasp! What do you do? Can you really tell a cop “no”? Is it illegal for them to ask you to do something illegal?
As it turns out, a cop can ask you to commit a crime. Even if they offer to pay you, that is not considered entrapment. This would only apply if you commit a crime that you would not have done without police coercion.
Example: An undercover cop asks you to bring them heroin and offers to pay you, and you do it. In the eyes of the law, you still made the choice to do something illegal despite having been incentivized.
Cops are allowed to use a significant amount of pressure and incentivization to get someone to commit a crime. Entrapment might not be applicable here even if they go against Charter Rights.
False: An Undercover Officer Has To Tell You They Are a Cop
You spot someone who looks like a cop doing something kind of shady. “Are you a cop?” is not a question they have to answer. Officers – especially those working undercover – are allowed to lie about their identity if it is for the purpose of their work.
Undercover police work is considered dangerous, as many situations involve tracking down potentially violent criminals. Should their identities be compromised, undercover officers can find themselves in heaps of trouble.
False: The Police Cannot Break the Law
You might be subject to the law, but so are the police… to an extent. If a case requires them to break the law in order to catch a criminal or solve a problem, then they might have to break some laws.
False: Police Cannot Help You Break the Law
Police can help you break the law, and it might result in you needing to contact a criminal defense lawyer. Let’s say that you have been brought in for interrogation, the police get you to break a law in the process, and they later decide to arrest or charge you for that crime. You might be surprised by how often this happens.
Police can ask you to break the law, and they can give you the means to do so. This does not count as police entrapment since – again – you are viewed as having made the choice to break the law regardless of police pressure.
False: Police Cannot Arrest You For a Crime That They Allowed You to Commit
The police are not required to stop you from committing a crime even if they suspect or know for certain that you are about to do it. They can arrest you while you are committing or after you have committed the crime.
Why might they do this? Well, to get you a longer, harsher sentence would be a very likely reason. You do not have the right to follow through with committing a crime, and legally-speaking, this is not entrapment based on your choice.
If you think you might be a victim of police entrapment, you need to get a good criminal defense lawyer on your side. Proving your case will have a lot of hurdles, and it is best not to do it yourself since law enforcement attorneys know how to find a lot of loopholes. Your arrest might feel like entrapment, but the law might not see it that way.