When it comes to drug crimes, law enforcement will often take a proactive approach to investigations. This can include going undercover in order to gain information and build evidence against a suspect or suspects involved in major drug operations, such as trafficking. In this blog post, we'll be looking at when and how law enforcement may go undercover in these cases, as well as the parameters they must work within and how entrapment plays into these investigations.
The Role of an Undercover Officer
Undercover officers play a vital role in gathering information and evidence related to drug crimes, particularly those involving large-scale operations such as trafficking. They may use their cover identity to infiltrate criminal organizations and identify key players, who are then monitored with surveillance equipment. The officer might also attend meetings or buy drugs from the traffickers in order to build evidence for their case.
Signs of an Undercover Officer
Certain behaviors or actions can sometimes identify undercover officers. For example, they may have trouble blending into groups due to their unfamiliarity with certain slang terms or other cultural cues that give them away. Also, it's important to note that an undercover officer cannot do anything illegal; if someone asks them to commit a crime, they must refuse.
It's also possible for them to make offers you feel you can't refuse following an arrest—but any offer made by an undercover officer should always be discussed with your lawyer before agreeing to it.
Legal Parameters for Undercover Officers
The legal parameters surrounding undercover officers are detailed and specific; they are held accountable for any activity they engage in while on the job. Generally speaking, there is no limit on how long an officer may remain undercover; however, there are limits on what they can do while still maintaining the integrity of their mission and staying within the law.
Undercover Officers Must Comply With Laws
Undercover officers are still responsible for their actions while working on an assignment. They must be fully aware of the legal parameters within which they operate and not do anything that would cross the boundaries into criminal activity. This means that any offers made or requests demanded from a suspect should remain within the scope of the law. Any evidence resulting from an illegal action or activity performed by an undercover officer may be inadmissible in court.
Entrapment is a common defense used in drug crime cases involving undercover officers. This occurs when an officer entices or coerces someone into committing a criminal act, which is considered to be illegal activity. Officers need to remember that although they may use certain tactics to encourage suspects to commit crimes, they must never force or coerce them into doing so.
In these cases, the burden of proof is on the defense to show that the actions of an undercover officer constituted entrapment and that they induced a person to commit a crime they would not have normally done. If successful in proving this, it can lead to charges being dropped or reduced.
Related Reading: Entrapment & Drug Offenses: What You Should Know
What Other Evidence is Inadmissible?
Aside from evidence resulting from illegal activity by an undercover officer, other kinds of evidence are inadmissible as well. This includes any information obtained through the use of torture or threats and physical or mental coercion. Additionally, hearsay is often not allowed in court unless it falls under certain exceptions, such as dying declarations or excited utterances that can be proved to be true.
Ultimately, when it comes to investigations involving drug crimes and undercover officers, they must stay within the legal boundaries and respect the rights of suspects. It's important that both sides understand their rights and responsibilities in order to ensure that justice is served fairly.
Questions About Your Case? Call Our Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorneys
If ever you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being charged with a drug crime here in Atlanta, it's important that you reach out to a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. Our experienced legal team at Law Office of Jeff Manciagli will take the time to carefully review your case and determine the best course of action. Request a consultation by calling (770) 884-4708.