Understanding Entrapment In Canada

How far can undercover police officers go when trying to catch someone committing a crime? In Canada, laws surrounding entrapment are designed to protect defendants when law enforcers overstep their boundaries and end up coercing or influencing citizens into committing crimes.

But what distinguishes entrapment from permitted investigative techniques? We’re going to take a closer look:

What Constitutes Entrapment?

Leading or manipulative techniques employed by law enforcement officers can persuade someone to commit a crime that they wouldn’t have committed otherwise. If a citizen is influenced to commit a wrongdoing by a police officer (not a regular citizen), it may be considered entrapment. 

The difference is this: rather than the individual deciding to engage in criminal activity, their decision is made for them by an officer. Therefore, they should not be held liable for their actions.

Entrapment can be used as a defence for those who are unlawfully prosecuted. If a law enforcer engages in trickery, deception, and coercion to make someone commit a crime, it may cause a citizen to act in a way they typically would not have.

If a judge rules that entrapment is involved in a case, the charges will often be dismissed, or some evidence will be discarded. 

An Example of Entrapment

A recent case in Canada has brought this defence to light, known as R. v. Ahmad. In it, the police received a tip that the two defendants were part of a “dial-a-dope” operation. The officers called the number, arranged to purchase drugs, and then arrested the individuals. 

However, the question arose about whether the law enforcers had reasonable suspicion to believe that the defendant was selling drugs before calling. This resulted in deliberation about whether entrapment had occurred. 

Of the two individuals that were arrested, one entrapment case was dismissed, while the other was accepted. With the first defendant, the police were able to authenticate the tip before calling the individual. But with the second, the tip was not verified, and therefore the police had no reasonable suspicion to suspect drug trafficking before making the call.

Are There Exclusions to Entrapment?

Yes. For crimes that involve bodily harm, murder, or violence, entrapment cannot be used as a defence. Entrapment is more commonly involved in offences like drug trafficking, soliciting prostitution, or theft.

How Do You Prove Entrapment?

It’s up to the defendant and their lawyer to prove that entrapment has taken place. 

Here are a few questions that can help you determine if entrapment is involved in a case:

  • Has the defendant been exploited or taken advantage of, either psychologically or emotionally?
  • How many times did the officer engage with the individual to commit the crime before it occurred? Specifically, were there repeated attempts to facilitate the crime?
  • What techniques were used by the police officer to interact with the defendant? Did they threaten the defendant?

The law states that officers must have a reasonable suspicion to believe an individual will commit a crime before pursuing them. Otherwise, it can be seen as an abuse of power.

Do you suspect that entrapment was involved in your case? A Winnipeg-based criminal lawyer can help. Matt Gould has years of experience with defending charges like drug offences, impaired driving, and youth offences. Call or text 24 hours a day to schedule a free consultation.