When the police conduct an undercover sting operation to catch and arrest people soliciting prostitutes for sexual favors and acts, it always raises a red flag to criminal defense attorneys. Unless law enforcement officers and detectives are completely careful – and oftentimes they are not – the illegal act of entrapment might be the only reason why they can make an arrest for solicitation.
In basic terms, entrapment is the act of a police officer or law enforcement agent using some sort of coercion, encouragement, or intimidation to make someone else commit a crime. Entrapment is common in prostitution stings since the undercover agents posing as prostitutes need to interact directly with potential “Johns,” or someone who hires a prostitute illegally. The undercover agent – who is most commonly a female – might propose to a passerby that hiring her would lead to a “good time” or “relieve stress.” These simple statements are not so innocent, as it can be reasonably argued that they are coercive in nature.
Presenting Opportunity Is Not Entrapment
If law enforcement agents want to stay within their own legal boundaries during a prostitution sting, they must only create the opportunity to solicit. Creating the opportunity to commit a crime and putting it before someone is not entrapment since, feasibly, we are all constantly surrounded by opportunities to break the law. The classic example of opportunity, not entrapment, is the police leaving a multi-thousand dollar bicycle unchained and on the street; anyone who attempts to ride off on it has committed theft without being entrapped, since no agent directly interacted with and encouraged the crime.
In a prostitution sting, opportunity is created by putting an undercover agent on the street and instructing her to smile at and politely converse with passersby, but nothing more. It is not illegal for her to strike up friendly conversation, or even say that she is looking for a “party.” If the targeted suspect is the first person to actually offer payment for a favor, it is likely not entrapment.
Understanding Your Rights in the Gray Area of Entrapment
Many solicitation arrests immediately raise the question of whether or not entrapment has occurred, and it most usually ends as a heated battle between prosecutors and the defendant. Due to the unclear legal gray area entrapment creates, many cases could go either way, depending on the judge’s discretion or how well each side presented an argument. Retaining a trusted criminal defender is crucial.
Need a highly experienced, highly rated Riverside criminal defense attorney after you were arrested for solicitation? Look no further than Blumenthal & Moore. Our legal team knows all the tricks and strategies your opposition will try to use to excuse the entrapment as mere opportunity, which gives you an insightful, unexpected advantage.
Call or email our law office today to request a case analysis.