Police entrapment is an oft-misunderstood term. There are a number of television-inspired myths surrounding what police can and cannot do. As an unfortunate result, people at times do not realize that they are victims of police entrapment.
This blog looks at the most common police entrapment myths and misunderstandings in Toronto.
Undercover Police Has to Tell You They’re a Cop: False
“Are you a cop? You have to tell me,” it’s a common movie trope. The idea is based on a belief that an undercover police officer has to answer this question truthfully, otherwise, they are entrapping the target of their investigation. This is just another movie myth. The reality is that police officers are allowed to lie, especially if they are working in an undercover capacity.
Expectedly police often help to spread this myth. Working undercover is dangerous for a police officer. Having to admit that they are undercover would seriously compromise their investigations and further put them danger.
Police Can’t Ask You to Commit a Crime: False
A police officer is allowed to ask you to commit a crime – that is not entrapment. If an undercover cop asks you to do something illegal, even if he offers to pay you to do it, that is not entrapment. It only applies if the accused commits a crime that they wouldn’t have in the absence of police coercion.
For example, if an undercover police officer tells you they will pay you to bring them drugs and you do it, that is not entrapment. Although they gave you an incentive, the choice was still yours and there is a good likelihood that you would commit the same crime if someone else asked you.
However, if the same officer used a threat to coerce you to commit the same crime, it may count as entrapment. It’s difficult to prove that you would have committed this crime in the absence of a threat.
Police are allowed to use a tremendous deal of pressure and influence to convince someone to commit a criminal offence. Even if they violate Charter Rights, entrapment may necessarily apply.
Police Can’t Arrest You for a Crime They Let You Commit: False
Whether police know or suspect that you are about to commit a crime, they don’t have to stop you before you do it. If you are unlikely to compromise anyone else’s safety, there is a good chance they’ll let you go through with the crime and arrest after or in-progress. This gives them a stronger case and gives you a harsher sentence than planning or intending to commit a crime.
You can walk up to an officer and tell them that you are about to do commit a crime. If they don’t stop or arrest you, that doesn’t give you the right to follow through. They are free to arrest and charge you with a criminal offence.
Police Can’t Help You Break The Law: False
Generally speaking, police are supposed to be law abiding citizens. But during an investigation, especially if undercover, the rules shift. Police can help suspects break the law for all sorts of reasons, and can then arrest and/or charge them for it later.
In addition to helping in the act, they can also help by providing the means to commit the crime (ie. funds) if necessary. Helping you break the law does not count as police entrapment.
Police Can’t Break The Law Themselves: False
Much in the same vein police are allowed, in some situations, to break the law. For instance, an undercover officer may help break the law to maintain their cover, earn trust, or to gather evidence.
Making a Police Entrapment Claim in Toronto
Whether a police entrapment claim applies to your situation or not, you need a Toronto criminal lawyer. They will assess your case and determine your options. This may include whether entrapment applies to your specific scenario, as well as looking at the legality of other forms of evidence such as wiretapping.
William Jaksa is a Toronto criminal lawyer with vast experience involving criminal defence. Contact us today.
William Jaksa | Criminal Litigation
43 Front Street East, Suite 400
Toronto, ON M5E 1B3