Every year, police departments across the state launch a variety of sting operations designed to catch and arrest people who are soliciting prostitutes. These operations often net a large number of arrests, but not every arrest leads to a conviction. As many criminal defense attorneys can attest, solicitation charges always warrant a second look, particularly if entrapment or other illegal actions on behalf of the police were a part of the arrest.
This post covers the legal definition of entrapment and provides an overview of what constitutes and doesn’t constitute entrapment when it comes to sting operations. This is just a brief look at a very complex topic and, as always, we invite you to reach out to us at the Jacot Law Firm if you’re looking for more in-depth information.
How is Entrapment Defined?
In California, entrapment is defined as any actions on the part of a police officer to encourage, intimidate, or coerce someone into commiting a crime. Since undercover cops posing as prostitutes need to engage with the “johns,” the opportunity for entrapment is always present, and officers who want to take shortcuts have been known to engage in behavior that would clearly be regarded as entrapment in a court of law.
Creating the Opportunity is not the Same Thing as Entrapment
However, things can quickly become muddled, particularly due to the “he said, she said” nature of these interactions. Not every action designed to entice someone into commiting a crime falls squarely into the realm of entrapment.
For example, presenting someone with the opportunity to commit a crime is not the same thing as entrapment. So if an officer leaves a bike unchained in a rough part of town, anybody who seizes on the opportunity to snatch the bike is still guilty as per the law. The logic behind this is that we are always surrounded with opportunities to commit crime, rendering it invalid as a legal defense.
If an officer posing as a prostitute entices a potential john to catch him in the act, it all comes down to how he/she approached the defendant. Thus, a skilled criminal defense attorney could demonstrate that suggestions involving a “good time” or “stress relief” are coercive in nature in order to help fight off the charges.
That said, this is a gray area of the law and the outcome of each situation can vary significantly. This is why, when facing solicitation charges in CA, your first step should always be to consult with a qualified legal professional.
We hope this post provided you with some insight into how entrapment works in CA. If you’d like to learn more, and to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys, remember that the Jacot Law Firm is here to help! Call us at 209-463-1800 today!