California takes the enforcement of laws surrounding illegal drug sales very seriously. Police use every means legally available to them to find and arrest anyone committing these offenses. If you have been arrested for buying or selling illegal drugs, you may find yourself asking: can cops pretend to be drug dealers in California?
If you feel you were arrested unlawfully because the police illegally posed as drug sellers, then you need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At Simmrin Law Group, we examine the details of your case and guide you through the options you have available. We can litigate your defense and work to show that you may have been unfairly enticed by law enforcement into committing a crime.
How Do Undercover Drug Busts Happen?
When police officers dress and behave as drug dealers, they are conducting sting operations designed to offer opportunities for individuals to buy drugs. They are not allowed to force or coerce buyers into purchasing the substances. However, they can make misleading statements or lie to someone they suspect is interested in making a drug deal.
Law enforcement uses these sting operations to target areas where they know large numbers of drug deals occur. They try to reduce the drug-related crime in those neighborhoods by arresting buyers and working their way up to arresting dealers. Buyers who are arrested will often be given lighter sentences in return for providing information about drug dealers, allowing police to remove the sellers from the area.
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What Is the Difference Between a Sting Operation and Entrapment?
Sting operations offer the chance to buy drugs without coercion. If an officer entices or forces the buyer to purchase drugs, that could qualify as entrapment, which is illegal.
Entrapment can be tricky to prove because the officer’s actions must lure a person into committing a crime they ordinarily would not have. Some examples of how you could use entrapment as a defense include:
- Proving the undercover officer was the first one to mention buying or selling the drugs
- Demonstrating that the officer coerced or harassed you into buying the drugs
- Showing that you were not naturally inclined to purchase or sell drugs until enticed or urged by the undercover officer
An entrapment defense depends on successfully showing that the officer posing as a drug dealer is the one who instigated or encouraged the criminal behavior. It could include evidence showing the officer made claims that they would die or fall ill if they did not buy drugs from you. However, if you are the one who requests drugs, pays for them, accepts them, and leaves, then you probably cannot argue entrapment.
What Are Subjective and Objective Standards for Entrapment?
Entrapment as a defense can rely on two standards: subjective or objective. The subjective standard has to do with whether a defendant would commit the crime of their own free will, based on their personal predisposition towards the offense. The objective standard concentrates on whether the officer behaved in a way that would entice a reasonable, law-abiding person to commit the crime.
For the subjective standard, the prosecutor is likely to use any past criminal record you may have against you. This could prove that you have a predisposition to buy or sell drugs and you would be less able to claim entrapment. In the objective defense, a person’s past record cannot be used against them because the objective standard focuses on what a reasonable person would do, not the defendant specifically.
California employs the objective standard, which protects defendants against misbehavior by an officer. It also gives individuals a more level playing field in their defense by preventing any related criminal history from being used against them.
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Doesn’t an Undercover Officer Have to Tell Me They Are a Cop?
Although this is commonly portrayed in movies and television, it is a myth that undercover police must tell you that they are cops. They are allowed to say a lot of things in pursuit of the sting operation, provided they do not entice or harass you into making a deal. They are able to lie or mislead you into believing they are not police officers.
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Can I Claim Entrapment if I Am Arrested for Buying Drugs from an Actual Drug Dealer?
No, entrapment is only a plausible defense when the person you buy from or sell to is a government agent. If you are arrested for buying to selling from another citizen, you cannot claim entrapment.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Arrested Following a Drug Deal with an Undercover Cop?
Suppose you have been charged and arrested for buying or selling drugs during a transaction with an officer pretending to be a drug dealer. In that case, you must contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Understanding how to defend yourself is critical. If you speak with the police before hiring a lawyer, you risk saying or doing things that will make it easier for a prosecutor to win the case.
Prosecutors in drug cases must prove that you are guilty, as opposed to you proving you are innocent. While you are presumed innocent, and you should present all available evidence showing this, a skilled drug defense attorney will ensure you do not hurt your case by mistake. You may have the option to argue entrapment or claim illegal search and seizure as part of your defense.
How Can a Criminal Drug Defense Lawyer in California Help Me?
Because California laws are so complex, it is vital that you do not try to defend yourself. Statutes of limitations, possible entrapment, and other details of the legal system can be confusing when you are facing a criminal drug charge. It is best to hire a qualified criminal drug defense lawyer to ensure you have the best chance of arguing your innocence.
The Simmrin Law Group believes that everyone deserves the best legal representation available. We litigate tirelessly for all our clients regardless of their circumstances. We want to help you avoid prison and fines by protecting you against police misconduct. Contact us using our online form to schedule a risk-free, confidential consultation today.