Does An Undercover Police Officer in St. Louis, MO Have to Tell the Truth When Asked if He or She is a Cop?
No, a police officer acting “undercover” does not have to admit to the fact that he or she is a law enforcement agent when asked. A lot of people incorrectly believe that an undercover cop has to respond truthfully when asked such a question, but it is simply not the case. Most people develop this misunderstanding by watching a lot of crime/police shows on television in which a criminal asks the undercover agent if he is a cop (and invariably, the actor playing the cops gets a grumpy face, and sheepishly answers, “Yes.”)
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But it makes sense if you think about it: why would a cop divulge the fact that he is working undercover before he makes a bust? Of course the officer is going to lie if asked!! Here are a few common examples of the police working undercover:
1. You contact what you believe is a prostitute on Craigslist or Backpage, make arrangements to meet her, and when you arrive at the predetermined place a small of cops overtake you. Before you left to meet with the would-be prostitute, you cover your bases by asking, “Are you a cop?”. The undercover agent responds in the negative, and even goes so far as to reassure you by saying how much she cannot stand the police. Even though she lied to you about her true position, the undercover agent can still make the arrest.
2. You receive an online inquiry about services you posted on Craigslist or Backpage. The potential client works out an arrangement to meet you at a certain date, time, and place (like a hotel). You arrive at the correct place and time, and as soon you enter into the hotel room, you ask the guy sitting on the bed if he is a cop. He says no. You begin negotiating prices based on certain services, and then he pulls out his badge.
3. You meet with an individual who is going to purchase drugs from you. He tells you over and over that he is not a cop (and even asks you several times if you are part of the police). Once you arrive at the meeting place, he arrests you.
The other misconception about an undercover agent who lies to you about his or her true calling is that this constitutes “entrapment”. Entrapment is in fact a viable defense to be made in certain situations, but it cannot be used as a defense against the fact that the police officer lied about being a cop. Furthermore, it is difficult to claim the defense of entrapment because you would have to prove that you had no connection at all to the alleged crime. For instance, if you are in your own home and an undercover officer acting as a prostitute comes to your front door and asks if you would like to have sex for money, then you would have a good argument for entrapment. But if you responded to an ad on Craigslist for sexual services, emailed with the undercover agent about where to meet and what sort of services she would provide, and then you get busted at the pre-arranged meeting site, it is much more difficult to prove entrapment (because the state would argue that if it was not the undercover agent that you negotiated with, it would have been some other prostitute).
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