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What Qualifies as Entrapment?

Everyone in Tennessee and elsewhere knows about undercover police officers. Whether they are posted in a high-risk area to step in at the first sign of an assault or driving in an unmarked police car to find drunk drivers, the purpose of undercover officers is to catch wrongdoing without it being obvious there is a law enforcement presence. However, as you may not be aware, there is a difference between undercover officers stepping in after a crime has been committed and actively encouraging someone to commit a crime. When the latter occurs, it may be a case of entrapment.

As the U.S. Department of Justice explains, enforcement officers may pose as ordinary civilians to catch someone in the act of wrongdoing. Officers might pretend they are underage teenagers online to find someone who is trying to harm minors. However, they may not instigate inappropriate talk or try to coerce the other person into meeting them, as this could count as entrapment; they must be neutral and let the other person drive the conversation until an incident occurs that can justify an arrest. So what exactly is entrapment, you might wonder?

Imagine you meet a person at a bar, who says his mother is sick and asks you to sell him illegal drugs to help her suffering. If you immediately agree to supply the drugs, this is not a case of entrapment. However, if you refuse but the person harasses, begs or threatens you repeatedly until you give in, you might be able to show that you were coerced into committing a crime.

You are entitled to a competent defense whenever you are accused of a crime. Therefore, this information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.