When it comes to undercover operations and undercover cops (UC), what is considered entrapment and how “far” are UC allowed to go?

Scenario 1: UC approaches a suspected dealer and asks to buy drugs. Dealer says he doesn’t sell. UC offers 2x the rate and shows cash. Dealer sells. Is this entrapment? Why or why not?

Scenario 2: UC browses a forum known for illegal pornography and messages a user who has a bio as “send first”. UC messages user to send “links”. User replies they don’t send first. UC replies they will send “links” after. User sends a link of illegal pornography to UC. UC follows up and sends user a link to illegal pornography, also. Is this entrapment? Why or Why not?

Scenario 3: UC notices a group of dealers known for causing trouble in the neighbor hood. UC tells the group that someone left the back door to an electronic store unlocked and they should go check it out. UC waits for them to go in and rob the store. UC arrests the group on site. Is this entrapment?

1 Answer 1


Nathan Burney has a great description of what is and is not entrapment. In short, none of the above are entrapment, since they need to overcome the "law-abiding citizen's will to obey the law".

The closest to this standard is your scenario 3, depending on when the UC chose to arrest the group. If they were actually in the process of robbing the store, not entrapment - they chose to rob it on their own. If they had just entered the store, probably still not entrapment (for breaking and entering), but probably still leaving an "out" for the defense.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .