You see it on TV, you see it in movies, and you may have, unfortunately, seen it in real life. One of the most effective ways for law enforcement to catch individuals in the act of soliciting a prostitute – or “Johns,” as they call them – is through undercover stings. The scenario is typically straightforward: an undercover cop lures a John into an agreement to exchange of money for sexual acts, only to then have officers waiting just out of sight come in and make an arrest.
For the most part, this is a legal method of catching perpetrator. However, there is a fine line between a sting and entrapment – and in some cases, a police officer’s “sting” operation may end up being a defendant’s strongest defense against solicitation charges.
What is entrapment?
The legal definition of entrapment is when a law enforcement officer uses inappropriate, abusive, or improper pressure and behavior to coerce an individual into committing a crime that he or she otherwise would not have committed. Note that if an officer simply presents an opportunity to commit a crime and the individual failed to resist the temptation, entrapment is not an advisable defense.
Entrapment can be identified through the following tests:
- Analyzing the objective standard – would the police officer’s actions have coerced any rational, law-abiding citizen to commit the same crime?
- Analyzing the subjective standard – what was the nature of the enticement and what was the defendant’s state of mind? Was the defendant resistant and the officer aggressive?
Should I use an entrapment defense?
In cases in which police officers clearly crossed the line between presenting an opportunity and forcefully coercing a defendant, entrapment can be an extremely effective defensive strategy. However, this defense will always come with a risk, particularly if you have a history of engaging in prostitution or other illegal activities.
Under the subjective standard, a judge will usually believe that a defendant with a history of involvement in prostitution would be predisposed to solicit a prostitute regardless of the undercover officer’s actions. In these cases, even if the officer crossed a line, an entrapment case would likely not be effective.
It is also important to note that law enforcement generally make sure that every conversation and activity between the John and the undercover cop is properly recorded. This evidence will typically make it fairly easy for a judge to determine whether or not the arrest was made through entrapment.
Let’s Discuss Your Case
The best way to determine whether or not your solicitation of a prostitute charge can be defended through an entrapment argument is to analyze the unique factors of your case. If you've been arrested for solicitation of a prostitute in Oakland, CA, call our East Bay sex crime lawyers at Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed, or fill out a brief online form to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your options.