While working an undercover detail in a neighborhood known for drug activity, you notice a vehicle stopped at the intersection waiting for the light to change. The man in the vehicle makes eye contact with you. You approach his vehicle and begin carrying on a conversation with him. You ask him if he needs anything, and he responds by asking you, “What do you have?” You ask him what he is looking for, and he tells you he is looking to score. You show him a small bag containing a white powdery substance; he asks how much, and you respond, “20 dollars.” He hands you a $20 bill, and you give him the bag and tip your hat to signal that the transaction was completed. At this time, the man drives 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.
The individual 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.
- Answer the following questions:
- Did you have probable cause to approach the defendant while he was parked at the traffic light? Why or why not? Defend your answer.
- Do you feel that the entrapment defense is a valid one, considering the assignment scenario? Why or why not? Defend your answer.
- Is providing the opportunity for someone to commit a crime the same as entrapment? Why or why not?
- If the substance were marijuana, how much would be needed for a misdemeanor charge? A felony?