Entrapment is the act of law enforcement or government officials inducing
a person to commit a crime that the person did not have prior intent to
commit. Officials are allowed to use some forms of deception, but the
lines between enforcing and
entrapping can easily become blurred.
Many in the legal profession—including a federal judge in Chicago—argue
that the controversial strategies used by the United States Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to put members of inner-city
communities who are believed to be violent behind bars is, in fact, entrapment.
The ATF refers to these people as “trigger pullers.” Once
identified as such they are approached by undercover officers to rob a
fake stash house. The agency has been using these techniques since the 1990s.
To date, 1,000 arrests have been made; not all are actually violent criminals,
however. Approximately 130 of those arrests involved citizens with no
criminal records whatsoever. In one case, the ATF allegedly went so far
as to give the suspect a weapon. There is no reason to assume that some
of those targeted by the ATF stings are violent. Even some who had prior
criminal records were not convicted of violent crimes. Yet, they are persuaded
by undercover officers with an offer so lucrative it is hard for most
to turn down.
Law enforcement officials on all levels need to follow proper protocol
when conducting undercover investigations. If you feel that you have been
coerced into committing a crime that you otherwise would not have committed
by an undercover officer, you may want to consult with a criminal defense
attorney to determine if your constitutional rights have been violated.
An attorney can also help prove in court that you did not have prior intent
to commit a violent crime.
Source: USA Today,
“ATF uses fake drugs, big bucks to snare suspects,” Brad Heath, June 28, 2013.