Understanding Police Entrapment: Your Rights, Protections, and Legal Defence



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    Entrapment is a defence that protects individuals from overzealous or inappropriate police tactics. These tactics can involve situations where law enforcement officers induce someone to commit a crime that they would not have otherwise committed.

    While these measures might be intended to catch criminals, they can sometimes blur the line between legitimate law enforcement and coercion.

    Here’s what you need to know.

    What Is the Legal Definition of Entrapment?

    Entrapment is the act of law enforcement officers or government agents inducing or encouraging a person to commit a crime when the potential criminal expresses a desire not to go ahead.

    The principle behind this defence lies in the belief that inducing criminal conduct compromises the integrity of the justice system.

    This defence takes root from the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the landmark case of R. v. Mack, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 903 – which remains a pivotal benchmark in the development and understanding of entrapment law in Canada.

    The defendant in this case, Carlisle Mack, was convicted for drug trafficking. The conviction was based on evidence obtained through an undercover police officer who posed as a drug dealer interested in purchasing cocaine from Mack.

    The officer built a relationship with Mack over several months, during which Mack repeatedly resisted selling drugs. Eventually, after significant pressure, Mack gave in and arranged the sale.

    When the case reached the Supreme Court of Canada, the court had to consider whether the police had entrapped Mack. The court’s ruling set a precedent for the legal definition of entrapment in Canada.

    The Supreme Court held that entrapment occurs when:

    • The authorities provide a person with an opportunity to commit an offence without acting on a reasonable suspicion that this person is already engaged in criminal activity or pursuant to a bona fide inquiry.
    • Although having such a reasonable suspicion or acting in the course of a bona fide inquiry, they go beyond providing an opportunity and induce the commission of an offence.

    Based on this, the court determined that while law enforcement could present opportunities for individuals suspected of criminal activity to commit offenses, they could not induce or pressure individuals into committing crimes. Therefore, the police had crossed the line with Mack, leading to his acquittal.

    This landmark case now serves as a guide for determining whether police conduct constitutes entrapment.

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    What Happens if a Member of VPD or RCMP Made Me Commit a Crime?

    Police involvement in criminal cases often raises the question of whether an act of entrapment has occurred.

    If an officer from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) or Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) intentionally induces you to commit a crime, it could be a potential case of entrapment.

    However, such cases depend significantly on the specifics of the officer’s involvement and the accused’s response.

    What Happens if a Non-Police Member Made Me Commit a Crime?

    While police officers are typically at the center of entrapment cases, the realm of entrapment law extends to encompass individuals not directly connected to formal law enforcement. These individuals could include informants, undercover agents not formally employed by the police, or even private citizens cooperating with law enforcement.

    These non-police actors may participate in investigations and can be implicated in entrapment scenarios under certain circumstances. This generally occurs when these individuals are acting as ‘agents of the state.’

    An ‘agent of the state’ in this context refers to an individual who, while not formally part of law enforcement, is acting under the direction, control, or influence of law enforcement to carry out certain actions.

    This could range from providing information to more active roles, such as helping to induce an individual to commit a crime.

    If a non-police actor, acting as an agent of the state, induces someone to commit a crime, the induced person may be able to raise an entrapment defence. This is because the actions of the state agent can be seen as an extension of the actions of law enforcement.

    As with traditional police entrapment, the key is whether the state agent induced the crime or merely provided an opportunity for a crime to occur.

    Are the Police Allowed To Make Us Commit a Crime?

    A question that frequently surfaces in entrapment discussions is whether the police are allowed to make us commit a crime. While this seems counterintuitive, there are scenarios, under the umbrella of bona fide inquiry, where police can encourage individuals to engage in criminal activity.

    What is a Bona Fide Inquiry?

    A bona fide inquiry describes a situation where law enforcement, believing on reasonable grounds that an offence is already taking place, provides the opportunity for the accused to continue. However, this inquiry’s legitimacy doesn’t authorize law enforcement to push or manipulate individuals into committing crimes.

    What Are the Two Types of Entrapment?

    Generally, the entrapment defence falls under two categories: opportunity-based and inducement-based.

    Opportunity-based Entrapment

    Opportunity-based entrapment happens when law enforcement gives an individual a chance to commit a crime without applying undue pressure.

    Inducement-based Entrapment

    Inducement-based entrapment refers to situations where law enforcement officials use tactics to coerce or persuade an individual to commit a crime that they wouldn’t typically engage in.

    When Can I Bring up Police Entrapment in My Case?

    If you believe you have been entrapped by law enforcement, you must discuss this matter with your lawyer as soon as possible. The entrapment defence can be invoked only after the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed an offense.

    Would This Help My Case?

    The prospect of using an entrapment defence in your case often hinges on its specific circumstances. Entrapment claims can be complex and require careful analysis. Thus, a consultation with your lawyer can provide insights into its potential benefits.

    Need Help? Contact Sarah Leamon Law Today

    Although we at Sarah Leamon Law can’t assist with lawsuits against police agencies or law enforcement, we are well-equipped to explore police entrapment as a potential legal defence for you.

    If you believe you’ve been a victim of police entrapment, contact us immediately. Our team stands ready to help you navigate this complex area of law and fight for your rights.

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