What Is the Entrapment Law in Texas?
Entrapment is a complicated area of law that is often difficult to prove. It can be used in cases such as undercover operations, where police officers coerced the defendant into committing one or more criminal offenses.
The purpose of this law is to protect members of society from being unjustly manipulated or induced into committing an illegal act. Because of the complicated nature of these cases, it's best to hire a compassionate and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth that is experienced when it comes to affirmative defense.
What Is Entrapment?
Under Texas Penal Code § 8.06, entrapment is a specific affirmative defense strategy whereby defendants claim that law enforcement officers coerced or induced them to commit a crime they would not have committed otherwise.
While this can be quite challenging to prove, the key element in these types of cases is that defendant would not have been inclined to commit the criminal act if the law enforcement officer had not forced them to do so. It involves the aggressive actions or persuasion of a police officer resulting in non-compliance with the law.
Proving the Entrapment Defense in Texas
Defendants cannot always raise an entrapment defense in their cases. If the suspect wants to successfully argue that a law enforcement agent induced them to commit a crime, they need to provide evidence confirming that the police officer/s used overly aggressive tactics to get them to break the law.
This defense can be used when law enforcement officers go too far to prove that an individual is guilty of a criminal offense, meaning that subjective and objective evidence is required.
Subjective proof consists of showing that the police officer caused the defendant to commit a crime, whereas the objective test proves that any other law-abiding citizen would have also committed the same crime had the law enforcement officers behaved in the exact same manner.
A few examples of actions that would result in entrapment include:
Threats of violence
An overwhelming amount of continuous requests to commit a crime
Furthermore, unsuccessful attempts at using the entrapment defense include:
Speed traps in locations that have suddenly changing speed limits
An undercover police officer offers to buy drugs
The alleged offender agrees to pay the undercover police officer for prostitution
The undercover police officer lied about their connection to law enforcement
When Can an Entrapment Defense Be Used?
An entrapment defense is best used in felonies or misdemeanors where police officers or other government agents were directly involved. Most of the time, it's used when police officers conduct undercover operations involving:
Burglary or theft
Drug dealing or trafficking
It is not a good idea to use the entrapment defense strategy when the defendant was previously convicted of the same or a similar charge, especially since the defendant's criminal record will be used as a form of evidence.
Entrapment Law in Texas
The defendant's criminal defense attorney can raise the entrapment defense at trial. However, it's important to note that the burden of proof lies with the defendant in these cases. This means the defendant has the responsibility to prove that the law enforcement agent's actions constitute entrapment.
To argue entrapment, the defense must successfully prove that:
The actor engaged in the conduct charged;
Because law enforcement officials induced the defendant to;
The police officer used means, such as persuasion or aggression; and
The law enforcement agent's means were likely to cause persons to commit the crime.
If the defense can prove this, the district attorney or prosecutor needs to disprove entrapment beyond a reasonable doubt.
One of the main elements surrounding entrapment law across the US is "predisposition." However, predisposition varies from state to state. The Texas Penal Code follows a mixed approach, in which it considers both subjective and objective factors. Nevertheless, it is mostly an "objective" state.
This means that the defendant needs to prove that any reasonable, law-abiding person would have engaged in criminal conduct if they were placed in a similar situation. However, the judge will still consider the defendant's criminal record and subjective factors when determining whether they were predisposed to commit a crime.
If it is proved that the defendant engaged in the conduct charged because the law enforcement agent induced them to, the defendant can be excused from criminal liability.
Sting Operation vs. Entrapment
Not all undercover operations by police officers are considered entrapment under Texas law. The specific facts of the case will determine whether the actions of the police officers qualify as a regular sting operation or entrapment.
Are undercover sting operations legal or not? A sting operation occurs when a police officer or law enforcement agent acts as a criminal partner or victim to attempt to obtain evidence against a suspect to use during a criminal prosecution. These are legal operations and are generally used to catch someone in the act of selling or buying drugs, the distribution or possession of child pornography, the solicitation of a prostitute or minor, and more.
However, there is a fine line between a sting operation and entrapment. A sting operation becomes entrapment when the law enforcement official coerces the individual to commit the crime or provokes them to break the law.
Bridging this gap can be extremely complex, which is why it's advisable to consult an experienced attorney.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
Entrapment law in Texas is complicated and involves a number of intricacies that can be difficult to navigate. Therefore, it's vital to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to successfully argue the entrapment defense. They can also advise one questions such as, "How long does the DA have to file charges in Texas?" A knowledgeable attorney knows how to investigate and prove entrapment.
At Sparks Law Firm in Ft. Worth, Texas, our criminal defense attorneys have years of experience when it comes to Texas law and can successfully gather evidence that will be used during a criminal prosecution. It's essential to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether the entrapment defense is suitable or not. Contact us today for a free consultation!