With two arrests for possession of marijuana and two subsequent probationary periods, Ernie had a spotty record. In his most recent arrest, police also charged Ernie with possession of cocaine because a gram was found in his freshman roommate's drawer. An attorney helped Ernie get the cocaine charges dismissed but not the marijuana charges. Afterwards, Ernie took a break from college and began working at a sandwich shop to save up money.
A new worker's friend named Bob, who happened to be an undercover member of the Florida drug task force, saw Ernie smoking marijuana at group gatherings and knew he had a reputation for selling small amounts of the drug. Bob's assignment was to investigate rumors that someone who worked at the sandwich store or who was associated with the workers was trafficking large volumes of cocaine. Since Ernie's record fit the profile and he was suspected of selling other drugs, Bob wanted to see if Ernie knew how to get cocaine.
Bob asked Ernie to sell him a gram of cocaine one day. Ernie declined, saying he didn't really have any contacts. Bob asked repeatedly the next few days, saying he really needed a gram before his girlfriend's birthday that weekend. Bob also made Ernie feel pressured by saying that he heard Ernie was nice yet Ernie was clearly brushing him off. Ernie finally gave in, saying he would call some people. That night, Ernie delivered a gram of cocaine to Bob. Bob said the product looked great and asked Ernie if he could get several grams at a time. Ernie said it could be possible and that he would look into it.
The next morning, police arrived at Ernie's house and arrested him. They found less than a half ounce of marijuana, a digital scale and some related paraphernalia, but no cocaine. Nevertheless, Ernie was charged with distribution of cocaine and asked to reveal information about cocaine trafficking. Reserving his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination, Ernie declined to speak with the police until he had a lawyer.
Was Ernie Entrapped?
Because Ernie could claim he was coerced, he could potentially mount an entrapment defense. However, entrapment is a complex legal defense with many nuanced interpretations which we will explore further in later blogs. Winning Ernie's case with an entrapment defense therefore wouldn't be easy. Bob the agent's conduct would have to be proven to be so extreme that any normal person would break down and sell him cocaine. The prosecution would also likely point to Ernie's criminal history, claiming that his past behavior indicates that he is predisposed to actions like selling cocaine.
The only thing for certain is that Ernie needs a good criminal attorney. If you find yourself facing charges after a police or government agent coerced you into performing an illegal act, we suggest you seek out skilled legal representation to ensure that all of the facts of the case are considered. No matter how much evidence they have of your guilt, a successful entrapment defense can ensure that unjust and unfair practices are not used to coerce people into performing crimes they would have otherwise not committed.
Contact us at Koberlein Law Offices in Gainesville and Lake City, Florida for more information on how we can help you protect yourself against unfair law enforcement practices.