Entrapment: When the Police Cross the Line

Prosecuting certain crimes often involves sting operations with undercover police officers to catch criminals. When law enforcement uses tactics that entice suspects to commit a crime, it can constitute police entrapment.

What Constitutes Police Entrapment?

Certain victimless crimes such as prostitution, pornography distribution, and narcotics offenses rely heavily on undercover law enforcement sting operations. Police officers pose as criminals to gain the confidence of suspected criminals involved in crimes that are under investigation. Sting operations often involve bribery tactics, fencing, and solicitation of suspects by undercover agents. In undercover cases, police officers are allowed to use certain tactics to induce suspects to commit a crime or confess to a crime to instigate an arrest. However, if police officers exceed allowed limits, actions may constitute police entrapment. In such cases, suspects have the right to consult a criminal defense lawyer for entrapment charges.

Entrapment Standards

The United States Supreme Court enforces federal entrapment standards to protect innocent victims from police entrapment. The court states that the primary duties of police officers is to prevent crimes rather than punish crimes. The court argues that it is not a police officer’s duty to incite and create crime for the sole purpose of prosecuting and punishing suspected criminals who likely would not have committed the crime if not enticed or lured by police officers.

To determine if police entrapment has been committed, many states apply the federal entrapment test. This test looks to see if law enforcement officers or undercover agents lured a suspect into committing a crime through enticement actions based on the suspect’s criminal history. Other states ignore the suspect’s criminal background and focus only on incentive or enticement activities by police officers. Certain law enforcement techniques typically do no constitute entrapment under both federal and state entrapment standards. Such crimes include:

  • Agreeing to buy or sell drugs
  • Agreeing to buy or sell stolen property
  • Offering to engage in solicitation of prostitution
  • Posing as a minor in a pornography investigation
  • Impersonating a hit man in a murder investigation
  • Leaving keys in an unlocked car during a police surveillance for auto theft

Through the years, a criminal defense lawyer has seen numerous cases of police entrapment brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. Cases cover a variety of crimes dating back to prohibition days and the illegal sale of moonshine whiskey. Entrapment cases often include solicitation of suspects for various drug offenses, pornography crimes, and tax evasion.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

One of the questions people facing a criminal charge ask is: How long does a criminal case take? The timeline of your criminal case in Minnesota will depend on the nature and severity of the alleged crime, the speed of the criminal justice system, the duration of the trial, and whether an appeal will be necessary. Delays at any stage of the criminal justice process may impact how long your criminal case will last. Generally, however, misdemeanor cases may resolve within weeks or months, while felony cases may linger in courts for up to a year.
People accused, arrested, or charged with a crime often ask, “How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost in Minneapolis, MN?” It is difficult to accurately determine how much a criminal defense lawyer will cost. The reason is that numerous factors impact the cost of legal representation in criminal matters. These factors include the type and severity of criminal charges, the lawyer’s experience and reputation, required time and effort, and geographical location.
Social media can have legal implications, particularly when it comes to criminal cases. Since its advent, social media has become a powerful tool for communication and self-expression. As of 2023, an estimated 4.9 billion people worldwide use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to share thoughts, experiences, and moments from their lives. However, in this digital age, social media activity can be used as evidence in criminal cases in Minneapolis and elsewhere.