Based on your Phase 4 Key Assignment scenario, you have been advised that the defendant has appealed his case to the District Court of Appeals, and the court has agreed to hear arguments as to the issue of police entrapment. Using material from your text and other credible online sources, answer the following questions:
- Revise the Phase 4 Key Assignment based on instructor feedback and peer review.
- Address the following, and add your responses to your Key Assignment revision:
- What is the difference between an intermediate appellate court and a high appellate court? Are they referred to by other names? Explain.
- What options does the court have regarding the case in question? Be specific.
- If the appellate court finds that the defense is valid and reverses the judgment, will you be held liable either civilly, criminally, or both? Will the department be held liable?
- If you or the department is held liable, explain the theory involved.
- Be sure to reference all sources using APA style.
- The case involves a man who was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. The man was charged with buying controlled substance from an undercover police officer. The undercover police was working an undercover detail in a neighborhood known for drug activity. He then notice a vehicle stopped at the intersection waiting for the traffic light to change. The man in the vehicle made eye contact with the undercover police. The police approached the man and initiated a conversation with him. The police ask him if he needs anything and he responded, “What do you have?” The police asked him what he was looking for, and he responded that he was looking to score. The police officer showed him a small bag containing a white powdery substance and he asks how much. On being told the price, he hands the police a $20 bill and they completed transaction. At that time, the man drove off and is stopped a block away by a marked unit. The individual is placed under arrest for drug possession and purchasing drugs, and he is taken to jail. At his trial, the man claimed that he was a victim of entrapment by the police. However, he was found guilty and sentenced to serve 5 years in jail and given credit for the 3 months he already had served in jail. The issue at hand is whether the man is liable for the 5 year sentence or whether by virtue of being entrapped, should be given a gentler treatment. By reviewing different cases related to undercover and entrapment, the present paper intends to give a verdict as to whether the man should indeed be considered guilty and charged for possessing a controlled substance. The first section will first define and describe entrapment and how the court normally treat cases of entrapment. The best way of addressing the case entails justifying whether the defendant or the man alleged to have committed crime was trapped by traffic light or whether he was to buy the controlled substance even if there was no traffic light.
Issues present in the case
The main issue present in the case is whether the appellant is liable for the crime or whether the undercover police used traffic light to force and persuade the appellant into committing the crime.
From the case presented, it is apparent that the defendant is charged with possession of a controlled substance. At his trial, he claimed that he was a victim of entrapment by the police. He was found guilty and sentenced to serve 5 years in jail and given credit for the 3 months he already had served in jail.
To be able to determine the reasoning or the rationale that led to the conviction of the defendant, it is important to review similar court cases and the verdict that was made during such cases. It is also important to understand how courts normally treat the case of entrapment. By understanding entrapment and reviewing related cases, it will be possible to determine whether the decision by court to convict the appellant is legal or not.
Principally, entrapment entails the use of police laying a trap for the defendant or an opportunist to fall into. It is a form of police trickery and may result in the police catching the defendant in the act of committing the offence. The police officer responsible for entrapment is called agent provocateur. Such officer incite a defendant to commit a criminal offence which he would not otherwise have committed. In most cases, the court treats the case of use of an undercover police officer who does not incite and offence and an agent provocateur, who does. A case to justify this involves a case of R v. Christou and Wright. This is a case involving entrapment and undercover police officers. In this case, the police set up a fake jewellery shop called ‘Stardust Jewellers’ in Tottenham in north London. The shop was staffed solely by undercover police officers. The intention of the shop was to recover stolen property and arrest those who were handling stolen jewellery. The shop had hidden recordings equipment and each customer who was trying to sell stolen property was recovered. Several customers were charged in respect to numerous transactions. The prosecution wished to adduce the recordings in evidence at their trials and this was allowed by the trial judge. The defendants tried to appeal against their convictions arguing that the evidence of the recordings should have been excluded because it have an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings. However, their appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on the basis that the defendants had not been tricked by the police, but they had “voluntarily applied themselves to the trick.” The court adds that the police officers acting as staff in the shop were on “equal terms” with the customers. It was maintained that the defendant were doing in that shop exactly what they intended to do an in all probability, they were ready to do it.
Another case that worth reviewing is the case between Williams and another v. DPP. In this case, the police officers left a van unattended and unsecured on a busy high street in an area with a high crime rate. The van had a load of what looked like cigarette packets, but were in fact dummy packets. The undercover police then hid themselves in a nearby location and waited for people to steal the cigarette. During the hearing, the court held that the police had done nothing to force, persuade, encourage or coerce the appellants. They had not acted as agents provocateurs. The court maintained that the appellants had acted voluntarily in the absence of any pressure from the police and with full understanding of their own dishonesty and that the admission of evidence of the police would not have adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings. Several other cases that can be cited and reviewed include, but not limited to the case of R v. Stagg and also the case of R v. Smurthwaite. All these cases reveals that in a case where the undercover police did not coerced, forced, persuade and compel the appellant, then the appellant can be held liable for the crime committed.
A closer look at the case presented and the way similar cases are often approached reveals that courts are often fair in their approaches and must first establish whether there was fairness or whether the appellant was coerced or persuaded to commit the crime. A closer look at the case reveals that the defendant was not persuaded. In fact he was the one who initiated the conversation. This implies that he was looking for the controlled substances. This means that the charges against him are valid and justifiable.
Did you have probable cause to approach the defendant while he was parked at the traffic light? Why or why not? Defend your answer.
No, there was no probable cause. It was just a matter of trying to find out whether defendant is among the victims. This is because he was the one to initiate everything. In other words, the undercover police did not have prior knowledge about defendant.
Do you feel that the entrapment defense is a valid one, considering the assignment scenario? Why or why not? Defend your answer
The entrapment defense is not valid because the victim was the one who initiated the conversation
Is providing the opportunity for someone to commit a crime the same as entrapment? Why or why not?
No, it is not the same because it is not similar to forcing someone to commit a crime
If the substance were marijuana, how much would be needed for a misdemeanor charge? A felony?
It could have been a felony because possession of one controlled substance was a felony, while the other is a misdemeanor.
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Mowbray, A. (2007). Cases and materials on the European Convention on Human Rights. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press.
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Hartman, G. R., Mersky, R. M., Tate, C. L., & United States. (2004). Landmark Supreme Court cases: The most influential decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Facts on File.
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Bannon, M. E. (2003). A quick reference guide to contemporary criminal procedure for law enforcement officers: One hundred notable United States Supreme Court decisions and their effect on modern policing in America. Springfield, Ill: C.C. Thomas.
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