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Excessive Government Involvement In Criminal Defense

Excessive Government Involvement Criminal Defense

The criminal defense of outrageous government conduct is often confused with the defense of entrapment. Government conduct is rarely an effective defense for criminal activity, but there have been a few cases in which a court overturned an initial conviction due to the misconduct of police during a criminal investigation.

For example, in the 1978 Supreme Court case, People v. Isaacson, the New York State Police abused a young man named J.D. Breniman until he had answered their questions and admitted to extensive drug use. The police then coerced him into acting as an informant and made him believe that he would receive a lighter sentence if he helped them to apprehend other drug dealers.

Breniman phoned a friend and informed him of his dire situation and the need to find drugs that he could sell in order to raise the money that he needed for a defense attorney. The defendant, who was a graduate student in Pennsylvania, agreed to try to help his struggling friend. He had committed no prior drug offenses and he had very little experience using illegal substances.

Breniman convinced the defendant to meet him in New York State in order to make the exchange, where the defendant was apprehended by police. The defendant was then charged with the sale of illegal drugs and was sentenced to incarceration.

In this case, the Supreme Court found the behavior of the New York State police to be outrageous and unfair. Therefore, the original ruling was overturned and the defendant was acquitted of the charges

NEXT: Necessity as a Criminal Defense

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