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Are Prostitution Sting Operations Considered Entrapment?

Published: Aug 11, 2017 in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

To determine who is engaging in prostitution around Texas, law enforcement officers will often pretend to be prostitutes, pimps, or other individuals involved with the illicit activity. By acting like a prostitute or pimp, police officers end up meeting and speaking with people who are interested in meeting with prostitutes. Once individuals attempt to purchase a sex act, the officers then reveal their identity and arrest them. Whether the sting was conducted online or in person, it has serious consequences for those charged and raises a lot of questions. One of which is whether or a not a prostitution sting operation could be considered entrapment.

In most circumstances, entrapment is not a strong defense to sex crime charges. However, your case may be the exception. Contact an experienced Houston sex crime defense attorney at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to learn more.

What is Entrapment?

Section 8.06 of the Texas Penal Code outlines the defense of entrapment. Essentially, a viable defense can be raised if an individual engaged in criminal conduct because they were induced to do so by a law enforcement agent using persuasion or other means likely to cause the person to commit the crime. This first sentence can make the defense sound broad, as if it may apply to a sting operation. However, the statute goes on to say that conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit a crime does not constitute entrapment. This means that just because an undercover officer gave someone the clear opportunity to commit a crime, such as soliciting a prostitute, that does not mean the officer induced the individual to commit a crime.

Texas’ Objective Test

Texas judges will typically use an objective test to determine whether a law enforcement officer induced a defendant to commit a crime. This analysis is used to determine whether the officer’s actions were so persuasive that they are likely to cause an otherwise unwilling person to commit a crime. Keep in mind, the court is considering a genuinely unwilling person – not a person who is willing though anxious or scared.

During this test, the courts will give officers a great deal of discretion in how they acted while undercover. Police officers can do and say several things when conducting a sting operation to be convincing and witness other individual’s true behavior. However, Texas courts have found limits. Police are generally prohibited from conduct that appeals primarily to other people’s pity, sympathy, or close personal friendship. Officers are also not permitted to offer inordinate sums of money.

Successfully Using an Entrapment Defense

If you were charged with a sex crime due to a prostitution sting, you may be able to use entrapment as a defense. However, there needs to be evidence of the law enforcement agent’s inducement. You must be able to prove that you would not have committed the crime if it were not for the officer’s actions, and that any average, law-abiding citizen would have committed the crime under the same circumstances.

Contact a Houston Prostitution Lawyer Today
If you were targeted by Texas or federal law enforcement agents during a prostitution sting operation, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767. The sooner we are able to meet and review your case, the better. We will conduct an in-depth investigation into the police officer’s conduct and the prosecutor’s evidence against you. This will enable us to build you the strongest defense possible under the law.