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If you ask someone if they're a Cop/Informant.. do they have to tell you?

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  • Sep 07 2005 05:01 PM
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Posted 07 September 2005 - 05:01 PM

Ok heres the deal, I've always been told that if you ask someone if they are a Cop or an Informant that they have to answer you truthfully, otherwise its entrapment and their bust doesn't even matter, however last night I was watching an Episode of COPS where they were busting prostitutes... Every prostitute asked the undercover officer if they were a Cop, and the Cop said no each time... then proceeded to bust them. It just doesn't seem fair that they can do that. So whats the word?
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Posted 07 September 2005 - 05:31 PM

http://www.erowid.or...ice_info6.shtml

Do Undercover Police Have to Identify Themselves?
“Entrapment” and Deception by Law Enforcement
by Fire Erowid
Nov 2003
.
Brief Description of the Myth

There is a persistent rumor that if you ask an undercover police officer or police informant if they're a cop, they are required to tell you. Based on this myth, many people believe they can safely conduct illegal transactions just by making sure to ask "Are you a cop?" first.

This idea is widespread and like many such myths, is most often transmitted by word of mouth. Examples can also easily be found on bulletin boards and newsgroups, in subculture publications, and in the media. The major variations of the myth include:

* Police have to identify themselves if specifically asked whether they are law enforcement.

Example: "Are you scared that your friend or enemy is an undercover cop, just ask, they are required to tell you if they are reporting to law enforcement."1

* Undercover officers aren't allowed to initiate a drug sale without pre-existing suspicion.2

Example: "An undercover cop comes up to you and asks, 'Do you want to buy some drugs?’ You say, 'Yes', and they arrest you. THAT is entrapment, and will be thrown out."3

* Undercover officers aren't allowed to ask for an illegal drug by name. Example: “He tells me that [undercover police] cannot ask you for drugs by name, or even common slang terms. They must call it something else, like 'fun stuff'."4

Entrapment

These types of myths are generally based on the belief that it is illegal for a police officer to entrap a citizen into committing a crime. Following this theory, many people believe that related actions by police, such as lying about their identity, would also be illegal or invalidate a prosecution. While a claim of "entrapment" by police can be used as a defense in a criminal case, it is both uncommon and rarely successful. Additionally, police entrapment itself is not illegal -- just potential cause for a not-guilty verdict.

Loosely defined, entrapment is a situation in which, if not for the actions of the police officer or police informant, the defendant would not have committed the crime. This defense is generally only successful in situations where law enforcement officers create a criminal plan, plant the idea of that plan into an otherwise innocent person's mind, and then instigate the plan for the purpose of prosecuting the suspect.

The mere presentation of an opportunity or request by an officer that an individual commit a crime does not qualify as entrapment. An officer may engage a citizen in conversation and ask to buy an illegal substance -- even if they have no reason to suspect the person of illegal activity.2 They may offer to sell an illegal substance and arrest the buyer after the sale.

They can go out of their way to help a person to commit a crime. What they can't do, is unduly persuade, threaten, coerce, or harass the person, such that a normally law-abiding citizen would participate in the unlawful action. Unfortunately, even in cases where the government does induce a crime, evidence that the defendant was "predisposed" to committing the crime is likely to undermine an entrapment defense. If the prosecution can show that the defendant agreed to participate too quickly or had a record of similar crimes in the past, the entrapment defense rarely succeeds.5 One example of such a case was U.S. v. Bogart (1986) in which Bogart agreed to sell presidential campaign posters to a police informant. When the informant arrived to purchase the posters, he informed Bogart that his only method of payment was with cocaine. Though Bogart initially refused, he eventually agreed because he needed the proceeds from the sale. He was arrested and his entrapment defense was denied based on his "predisposition" to commit the crime.6

Are Police Allowed to Lie?

The question of whether or not the police may lie during the course of their work goes hand in hand with the question of entrapment.

It is well accepted that deception is often "necessary" to catch those who break the law. There is no question that police officers are allowed to directly mislead and/or deceive others about their identity, their law enforcement status, their history, and just about anything else, without breaking the law or compromising their case.5 Conversely, it is illegal for an ordinary citizen to lie to the police in many jurisdictions.

Are Police Allowed to Break The Law?

Police officers working undercover have exceptions from certain criminal laws. For instance, law enforcement officers directly engaged in the enforcement of controlled substance laws are exempt from laws surrounding the purchase, possession, sales or use of illegal substances.7

This means that there's no way to identify an undercover officer based on their willingness or refusal to use an illegal drug. Reverse stings are common in the enforcement of controlled substance laws. In a reverse sting operation, a police officer sells drugs that have previously been confiscated and then arrest the buyer.

Possible Sources of the Myth

The myth that undercover police must admit to being police if asked has been around since at least the mid-1970s. In addition to the belief that entrapment is illegal, it may have roots in requirements that law enforcement identify themselves in some other situations.

1. Most on-duty police are required to wear both a uniform and a uniquely numbered badge identifying themselves as police.
2. Police must generally identify themselves before executing a search warrant or arresting someone.
3. Though it varies by jurisdiction, there are some situations in which off-duty police may be required to identify themselves, including if confronted by another police officer or before acting in their capacity as a police officer. The simple summary is that undercover police are given a great deal of latitude when investigating suspected criminals. They may lie, break controlled substance laws, ask to buy substances by name, offer drugs for sale and are not required to identify themselves during the course of their undercover investigations.

References
1. Bob L. "Babylon and other important stuff." Posted to St. Louis Raves (Yahoo Groups). Jun 30, 1999. Retrieved Oct 2003 from groups.yahoo.com/group/stl-raves/message/3725

2. Kukura TV. "Undercover Investigations And The Entrapment Defense." Law Enforcement Bulletin. Apr 1993.

3. Frank M. "Any Other Brits Here?" Usenet.alt.support.girl-lovers. Jun 3, 2002.

4. Spyder. "Undercover Cops at Burning Man." Piss Clear. Aug 27, 2003; 19:2.

5. Greaney GM. "Crossing the Constitutional Line." Notre Dame Law Review. 1992; 67:745.

6. Lord KM. "Entrapment and Due Process." Florida State Univ. Law Review. 1998; 25(3):463.

7. 21 U.S.C. § 885(d) of the U.S. Code.



Factors Considered in an Entrapment Defense

1. The character of the defendant (whether the defendant was more "predisposed" to commit the crime than the ordinary citizen; e.g. having a record of illegal activity of this sort).
2. Who first suggested the criminal activity.
3. Whether the defendant engaged in the activity for profit.
4. Whether the defendant demonstrated reluctance (and not just "no thanks, well ok": more like repeatedly refusing and then eventually, months or years later, giving in).
5. The nature of the government's inducement (how much did they persuade, threaten, coerce, or harass).

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 05:57 PM

I was watching cops yesterday and the cop said that people think they have to tell them if they are cops but they really don't have to tell you wheather they are a cop or not.

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 05:59 PM

I think people just watched blow to many times.... heh

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 06:16 PM

the entrapment law in the U.K. stands as if you ask they have to say.........but each country is diffrent i guess..........like here it takes 2 cops to arrest someone as your wordis as good as his, but not 2 of them...........Peace out..........Sid

  • Captain of Outer Space

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 06:40 PM

Those sound like good laws, Sidious. Wish they'd adopt them here.

But no, no cop has to tell you they are a cop. The basic rule is, if a cop doesn't break the law it's not entrapment, and lying outside of oath isn't a crime. There are other specifics but in general that's how it is.

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 08:12 PM

listen carefully to the opening lines in the show COPS.. they say all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.. just because they got busted doesn't mean they got convicted, the cases could possibly have been thrown out..

yeah, that reminds me of Blow too..

from my grade 12 law text book (Canadian law, the book is outdated though, the Youth Act is totally different)
entrapment: the action of inducing a person into committing an offense

so i guess a cop asking for cocaine is illegal, but it's not illegal if they call it by a slang like blow or rock, etc.. if the person knows what they mean and offer some blow to the cop, then it was the dealer who committed the offense

personally, i fuckin' hate the show COPS (the Canadian version is way funnier, mostly drunk people) b/c the way they bust people is that they set up the entire crime, so if they didn't do that, the crime would not have taken place.. for example when female cops pretend to be hookers and find some johns, they started it.. fuckin' assholes

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 08:58 PM


personally, i fuckin' hate the show COPS (the Canadian version is way funnier, mostly drunk people) b/c the way they bust people is that they set up the entire crime, so if they didn't do that, the crime would not have taken place.. for example when female cops pretend to be hookers and find some johns, they started it.. fuckin' assholes


they do the same thing in american cops...sometimes they make the cops look like a stoner and give them fake weed...its amazing how many rednecks they bust trying to buy nicks and dimes..they also do the same thing with prostitutes...except the cops go around asking hos ...same idea. i cant believe you dont like cops...its the funniest shit ever...especially when they bust guys with like 2 pounds of weed on them...but i could see how all those gay "domestic disturbances" with the rednecks get boring...only when they find drugs it;s cool:)

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 10:08 PM

It so easy to not get busted too...

Whenever I'm buying/selling from someone new, I *always* smoke a J with them *before* any transaction takes place. That way if the guy's an undercover pig, he'd be breaking the law and that would be entrapment. I recommend you all do that to.

My friend made the mistake of turning down a blunt when we were buying from a room full of latinos that we didn't know. They were like "La policia!" and shit, I was like "you better hit that fucking blunt" but by then I had already taken it from him and toked.

COPS has some funny moments though. People are sooo retarded it kinda funny to watch, but it does get old quick because they do the same damn thing every time: Pull over a drunk. Laugh as he tries to explain it. Bust a wife beater. Pull over a drug runner. Arrest a hyper prostitute. Beat on some black guy. Roll credits.

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 11:09 PM

Whenever I'm buying/selling from someone new, I *always* smoke a J with them *before* any transaction takes place. That way if the guy's an undercover pig, he'd be breaking the law and that would be entrapment. I recommend you all do that to.

Check out the article RMJL posted, bro:

Are Police Allowed to Break The Law?

Police officers working undercover have exceptions from certain criminal laws. For instance, law enforcement officers directly engaged in the enforcement of controlled substance laws are exempt from laws surrounding the purchase, possession, sales or use of illegal substances.7

This means that there's no way to identify an undercover officer based on their willingness or refusal to use an illegal drug. Reverse stings are common in the enforcement of controlled substance laws. In a reverse sting operation, a police officer sells drugs that have previously been confiscated and then arrest the buyer.

Now, granted, most cops would turn down drugs anyway. But plenty of them wouldn't. I remember one time I went out with a girl I worked with one night after we got off. We ended up at her place afterwards. Eventually, we went out in the backyard to smoke a bowl. Well, I saw the curtains moving around in her neighbor's window, so I got worried that her neighbor saw us smoking. She told me, "Oh, don't worry, he works for the DEA, but he smokes too." I thought I was going to shit myself.

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 11:30 PM

Feanor:

It's so easy to get out of it though. You can say that you thought it was a legal substance because the cop was smoking, or you assumed it wasn't marijuana because "dealers don't give away free drugs" (even though they do). Shit you could probably say you were given "Marijuana Poisoning" which is an actual condition, assuming you're the one buying and the officer never calls it "marijuana."

Besides, the only time I bet that they *ever* use drugs in front of someone in order to bust them is when they are trying to bring down someone big and they don't want to blow it just because the undercover pig won't take a hit. But I don't think many cops would hotbox a car driving down the highway just to take down a purchaser. In fact I'm willing to bet that an officer could get in trouble for using illegal drugs when he could have easily said "no," I mean, I don't tell people that they have to smoke the J before I'll sell it, but people who refuse have to walk away empty handed.

The reason is this: Entrapment is defined as the act of officers or agents of the government in inducing a person to commit a crime not contemplated by him, for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him, and I do think that most courts would find that an officer breaking the law is commiting that act. After all, if a cop is like 'Hey, lets go rob a bank!' and then goes and robs a bank with you, it's entrapment. Now I know what the article said there are exemptions for drug crimes, but no law on in the US is cut-n-dry, or we'd have no courts. In court, the debate would be which side of the two laws over-rides the other, the one where the cop does something illegal which entices me into doing something illegal, or the one that says a cop can do something illegal to try to get me to do something illegal.

And yeah, I do know some pigs that smoke, but they'd *never* be caught dead smoking on the job. The public humiliation of admitting to using it (even in a sting) is too great for Johnny Law to bust some pot-head. Besides, a reverse sting doesn't have to involve using it, it just means the cop is selling it, which is normally illegal and not entrapment (kinda like hoes and johns).

Actually, I'd like to find an article that states a drug-busting officer used drugs to bust someone. Because I highly doubt it's ever happened except in a huge bust situation in which having an inhebriated officer isn't a problem because there's lots of backup. Otherwise how is some zero-tolerance police officer going to be able to bust me on his own in a moving car full of smoke?

EDIT: There's an interesting article on entrapment: http://www.fff.org/freedom/1197d.asp The part I find interesting is all the cases that were thrown out because the officers, though acting legally, we're too persuasive in trying to get someone to commit a crime.

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 11:47 PM

i was watching cops yesterday of course stoned out of my mind, and this guy got arrested for ONE fucking seed, and he is in the front of the cop car talking to the cop and the guy says, Weed isnt a drug, you could smoked a WHOLE opunce and still drive, now could you smoke a 6 pack and stil drive? the cop said i dunno never did weed.........i said LIE then took a bong rip

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 11:54 PM

^smoke a 6 pack.. heheheh =P

far as im concerned cops are allowed to lie. i dont trust em one bit. only way to tell if someones a cop or not is to get to know em.

this cop tried to tell me he could give me a "huge list of deaths caused by marijuana" hah. called that bluff out and told em i do my research, the only few deaths that were ever caused by marijuana were because the guys choked on their own puke (wtf...).

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 12:19 AM

thats how jimi hendrix died
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Posted 08 September 2005 - 12:20 AM

on his own puke not pot and he took like 8 sleeping pill b/c his buddy took 2 and it knocked him out cold so he took 8 :) but yet :(




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