Both federal investigators and law enforcement officers in Washington State rely on sting operations and other setups to catch people breaking the law. Many sting operations rely on
Stings are about as old as standing police forces, and society justifies them as ways of catching people in the act when otherwise criminals might continue to get away with bad and unsafe behavior.
However, there are limits to what law enforcement officers in the Seattle area can do in the course of trying to catch someone they suspect of criminal activity.
Among other things, officers are not allowed to entrap a person into committing a crime. If they do, then the person can claim a legal defense and avoid a conviction.
While Washington has a statute prohibiting entrapment, those accused in federal court may also have this defense available to them.
The difference between entrapment and opportunity is complicated
Law enforcement officers are allowed to give people a chance to commit a crime.
What they are not allowed to do is set up a sting operation that involves those working with law enforcement planning or even doing criminal activity and then unfairly pushing a person into joining in the crime.
The person will have to show that he or she otherwise had no intention of running afoul of the law.
Whether someone actually has been entrapped is a difficult question that depends heavily on an individual’s circumstances and the facts of a case. Someone with questions should speak to an experienced defense attorney.
Developments in Washington may mean additional help for entrapment victms
An important court case recently clarified Washington’s entrapment law in a way that favors those who have been the victims of unfair law enforcement techniques.
These people may have the ability to pursue post-conviction relief if their cases have already been decided, and they may have other options if their cases are ongoing.