Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't Do the Crime . . . .

Entrapment is a funny legal concept. People who feel that they got a ticket or were arrested when the police used unsporting means often claim entrapment. But, hiding a police car behind a hedge to catch speeders is not entrapment in the technical sense. It's a trap, but not a defense. Why? Because the speeder was speeding and obviously was perfectly willing to do so. The hidden cruiser did not make the driver speed.

I'm thinking of this because I noticed in today's Federal Register that a local man has been debarred from exporting due to violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Here is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release from his sentencing last year.

This guy worked at O'Hare and had security clearance to go just about anywhere. ICE was tipped off that he would, for a fee, arrange for the illegal export of currency on commercial airplanes. In a sting operation, ICE did that a couple times, but did not arrest him. Instead, they asked whether he would be willing to arrange to get some cellular network jamming equipment out of the country. Now the criminal has already proven to be a criminal willing to engage in conspiracies and actual smuggling, so I am not sympathetic to him. But look at what ICE did. They found a guy who was violating the currency reporting laws and asked him to violate ITAR. After he did it, they asked him to do it again with night vision scopes. Then, they arrested him.

Again, it's not entrapment. The guy is a dirt bag who deserves to be in jail. But, it is creating the circumstances in which a criminal has the opportunity to commit a more serious crime that never would have occurred otherwise. I know this is basic police procedure, but it seems a little wrong. What if the local PD found a burglar and did not arrest him. Instead, they asked "Hey, are you willing to kill a guy for me?" If he agrees, there is a conspiracy to commit murder. If the cops get lucky, there might even be an attempted murder.

Somehow, that makes me queasy. Which just makes me glad I am not a criminal defense lawyer and should make the public glad that I am not a prosecutor.

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