Undercover ‘sting’ operations and violations of defendants’ rights
It’s not uncommon for undercover police officers to impersonate a drug buyer in order to conduct a “sting” operation. This investigative tactic has led to many arrests and many serious drug charges in Palm Beach County. It’s also not uncommon for the arrested individuals to feel that their rights were violated by police.
The reality is that undercover “sting” operations often get into questionable legal terrain. It is not necessarily illegal for police to use deceit to build a criminal case against you, but undercover officers cannot lawfully induce or persuade you to commit a crime. If they do, they may have committed entrapment, and the charge may be dismissed.
In some cases, people who were not really inclined to sell drugs have been persuaded by undercover investigators to obtain a drug and sell it to an undercover officer. The accused individual may have felt pressured by the undercover officer (or an informant) to do a one-time “favor” by obtaining and selling the drug. If the accused person has no prior drug arrests, that person’s clean record may be helpful in showing the court that the defendant was not predisposed to engage in criminal conduct.
Whatever the situation may be, a drug charge resulting from an undercover “sting” operation should be closely scrutinized for any violations of the defendants rights before, during or after the arrest.
For more on these matters, please see our previous post, “What constitutes entrapment in criminal cases?“