Four out of every five citizens who are arrested for drug trafficking are victims of entrapment. Technically, five out of every five citizens arrested for drug trafficking believe they are victims of entrapment, but we’re not concerned with beliefs here, only the facts. Entrapment can be difficult to prove, because most judges and prosecutors won’t admit their beloved agents could ever permit an informant to manufacture a crime, rather than detect a crime. Well, I hate to break it to you, but it happens all the time. To understand why entrapment is prevalent in Florida, it’s important to understand how the game is played. Most entrapment cases involve confidential informants attempting to wiggle their way out of a serious charge, so that’s our focus.
The game begins when someone is arrested on a trafficking charge involving mandatory prison time (often a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison—about 12 years more than the average child rapist receives). The defendant who decides to become a snitch is usually a first offender, desperate not to spend the best years of his life behind bars. Let’s face it, this kind of time hanging over your head would cause most folks to do things they would otherwise be incapable of doing. So, with no law enforcement training, only a desire to “do anything to avoid going to prison”, law enforcement unleashes their untrained informants into Florida’s streets. These defendants/informants are now charged with a task that is typically reserved for “highly” trained undercover officers—set up drug deals. Not just any drug deal. Big drug deals. Yes, “big” can mean “dangerous”, a story for another day. The technical term for this untrained undercover work is “substantial assistance”.
An entire book could be written about substantial assistance deals, but who has the time for that? Here’s the three sentence version. A substantial assistance deal is a plea agreement with extra clauses providing the defendant with guaranteed “credit” against his minimum mandatory sentence for every arrest he manufactures. For example, if a defendant is facing a 25 year minimum mandatory for trafficking in oxycodone, the defendant may receive 5 years off of that sentence for every 25 year minimum mandatory arrest he manufactures. If the set up isn’t a big enough deal, the credit may only be for 3 years off, or 2 years off, and so forth, and so on. Yes, there are problems determining how much credit is due. For example, if a defendant’s efforts lead to the arrest of eight people—shouldn’t the defendant be given credit for all eight arrests? Continue Reading