What is Entrapment?

November 18, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

Entrapment is a tricky concept. It occurs when law enforcement convinces someone to commit a crime.  It gets confusing because the entrapment must go beyond merely affording someone the opportunity to commit a crime.

The law further says the enticement must be enough to persuade a normal, law abiding citizen with an ordinary resistance to committing a crime.  A good rule of thumb when thinking of entrapment is to see where the original intent of the crime originated – with police or the accused?

Entrapment is a defense to prosecution and Texas Penal Code 8.06 says:

(a) It is a defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the conduct charged because he was induced to do so by a law enforcement agent using persuasion or other means likely to cause persons to commit the offense. Conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit an offense does not constitute entrapment.

(b) In this section “law enforcement agent” includes personnel of the state and local law enforcement agencies as well as of the United States and any person acting in accordance with instructions from such agents.

Example of Situations Which are Entrapment:

  • A recovering addict is getting addiction treatment.  An undercover police officer meets the addict in the lobby of the counselor.  The undercover asks the addict to provide illegal drugs.  The addict refuses citing his attempt at recovery.  After repeated attempts to convince the addict, the addict gives in and attains and delivers drugs to the undercover officer.  See Sherman v. United States, 356 U.S. 369 (1958).
  • Undercover officer makes repeated attempts at having defendant provide access to drug dealers and drugs after defendant was reluctant after 12-year relationship. See Torres v. State, 980 S.W.2d 873 (Tex.App. — San Antonio, 1998).

Example of Common Situations Which Are Not Typically Entrapment

  • Person sells drugs to undercover police officer;
  • Persons who seek out and hire a hitman to kill someone;
  • Public servant who is offered a bribe and accept it.

Other Thoughts on Entrapment

Candidly – there is a strong bias against the entrapment defense by judges and juries.  Entrapment is more of an academic argument for that reason – and typically the most a court can do in a case of entrapment is give the jury an instruction they can acquit an accused on that basis.  So even if the person meets the legal pre-requisites of entrapment a jury still might not buy it.  Most people think the government conduct would have to be so outrageous as to strongly over-shadow the crime committed.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

 

 

 


Court-Run Mental Health Programs

November 17, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

I’ve blogged extensively about mental health and how it intersects with criminal law.  The over-lap can’t be understated.  You can watch a podcast I’ve done on the topic here.

Some of the good news is many criminal law judges, probation departments and even prosecutors have gotten on-board with gearing to include mental heath treatment as well as their normal repertoire.  It never hurts to ask your lawyer or your loved one’s lawyer what the available options are.

I can’t tell you how many mothers, fathers, spouses and other loved-ones of my clients have told me their main goal in a case is to simply get them help.  But the criminal justice system – and the adversarial process wasn’t naturally built to accomplish tasks like mental health treatment.  There are pros and actually cons to Court-Run mental health programs folks should be aware of.

Advantages of Court-Run Mental Health Programs

On the plus side, these court-run programs are designed for the indigent or near indigent.  So cost which often dictates far more than it should is hopefully all but eliminated.

The county (or whatever governmental sub-division you’re dealing with) has access to more infrastructure and services than a private entity might be able to have.

The court also has a “captive” audience meaning the individual has no real choice but to participate.  Anyone who has a loved one who is either so disturbed or oblivious to their mental health disorder that they refuse treatment knows how valuable this can be.

Disadvantages

For me as a criminal defense lawyer – I’m always focused on what happens to the client in 10 or 20 years based on what we do today.  Here are some important questions I ask about any government program:

  • Will this program require my client to be convicted as a price of admission?
  • Can I get this off my client’s record in addition to getting the treatment (often known as mental health diversion)?
  • Do I actually trust the county’s ability to do what they say they can do to help?
  • Am I just signing someone up for the county to be “in their hair” for years to come?
  • Are there better private alternatives which are viable options?

The Bottom Line on Court-Run Mental Illness Programs

Make no mistake – it’s fabulous to see courts simply move in this direction.  Judges and probation officers paying attention to these crucial aspects and triggers for criminal cases is a great thing – and you know people are really starting to get the importance of mental health when the prosecutors even get involved.

But going into a mental health program run by a judge or probation department is still – and probably always will be – a “look before you leap” situation.  There are always many factors to consider.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.


Podcast: Marijuana Legalization

October 29, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.texasdefensefirm.com

I’ve been doing a podcast this fall and I’m calling it simply, “The Lawyer Show.”  Every Thursday I interview another lawyer from a different area of law for an hour and mainly I do a lot of listening.  The episode on cannabis and legalization of marijuana was as fascinating as it gets.

A few weeks ago, I talked with California corporate lawyer Josh Schneiderman – and believe it or not — he advises and represents companies in the cannabis industry in California.  I learned a ton about how marijuana legalization might look and work in Texas.

It’s been nothing short of stunning for me to see the shift in attitudes in Texas since the time I was a prosecutor here.  It’s still a criminal offense – but for how long is anyone’s guess.  Enjoy the interview.

 

 

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He has been designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.


Lessons From Marijuana Legalization in California

October 9, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

jeremy@texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

I recently started doing a podcast.  Since I love talking it’s really been a blast.

My guest yesterday was a lawyer in California named Josh Schneiderman.  Josh works for a 450 lawyer firm with offices around the Southwest named Snell & Wilmer.  He represents businesses and companies in California in the cannabis industry.  By all accounts it is a cutting edge practice.

You can watch the podcast here.

Here are some major takeaways from the discussion:

While cannabis is legal in California, it is still prohibited by the Federal Government

This creates major headaches in far reaching areas you might not anticipate.  For example, if you are trying to patent a particular cannabis product – the Federal Government won’t grant you a patent.  Or, if you need a loan from a federally backed lender – you can forget that too.  Or, if you need bankruptcy protection you can’t get that either.  And the list goes on and on.

Some Banks and Credit Unions Will Take Cannabis Money – But it’s a Challenge

If a bank is going to take cannabis money — usually cash — they have a complex scheme of checks and audits they are responsible for to make sure they aren’t taking black market deposits.  That includes in some cases detailed direct analysis of the grower or retailer of the marijuana which larger and more sophisticated banks are unwilling to do.

The Cannabis Industry is Still Largely Based on Cash

Credit card companies are intimidated and scared by some of the regulatory nightmares and possible liability – so many in the legal cannabis supply chain still operate on cash.  That forces others in the chain to do the same.

These observations were the “tip of the iceberg.”  We discussed much much more including the path Texas seems to be on towards potential legalization and the pitfalls along the way.  I hope you’re able to watch.  It was truly a fascinating discussion!

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

 


Complete Texas Law Guide to CBD, Marijuana & THC

October 10, 2019

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

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Let’s start with the easy stuff:

CBD Products : (Cannabidiol) are now legal in Texas as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC (dry weight).  The Governor signed a bill into law effective September 1, 2019 legalizing CBD.

Medical Marijuana:  Legal if you have been diagnosed with parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis (MS), ALS, terminal cancer, and several seizure disorders AND you have a prescription for it.  Also, it cannot be smoked but must be consumed in an oil or inhaler form.

Marijuana:  Still illegal — but here’s all the hubbub:

For Legal Novices: In court the state must prove what is called the “Corpus Delicti” of every crime (Corpus Delicti is latin for ‘body of the crime’).  That means they have to prove a crime was actually committed.  In a murder case – it means they need to prove someone actually died — in a drug case it means someone actually possessed something illegal.  Remember the Dallas fake drug scandal?  It was a big stink because it’s just not a crime to possess sheet rock or gypsum even if you think it’s cocaine, anthrax or weapons grade plutonium.

The new CBD law makes it extremely difficult for law enforcement to know or prove whether the marijuana they arrest someone for has a concentration of 0.3% THC or not.

But Remember:  (1) possession of marijuana is still a crime.  Just because enforcement is difficult and/or problematic for the State doesn’t make it legal; and more importantly (2) This problem is temporary for two reasons —  First, the State may hone-in on an efficient testing system; and second — it’s a good bet the legislature will try to fix this loophole in 2021 which may be in time to meet the statute of limitations for an arrest made in 2019.

For the Legally Advanced:  This has created a nightmare in determining probable cause and reasonable suspicion to search a vehicle, seize evidence, and make an arrest.

For a police officer to search a vehicle they must have probable cause they will find evidence of an offense committed in their presence.  The odor of burned marijuana has very commonly been a staple of instant probable cause.  But here’s the question now: since the odor of burned marijuana isn’t necessarily indicative of a criminal offense (because someone could smoke cannabis without the active THC ingredient — or an ingredient of less than 0.3%) then does that vitiate the probable cause as well?

Assuming the odor of burned marijuana no longer supports probable cause (and that is a big assumption) then a search based on the odor of burned marijuana would be illegal and subject to the exclusionary rule.  The exclusionary rule prevents evidence from an illegal search from being used against you in court — aka “fruit of the poisonous tree.”  In other words, you win.

Stay tuned!

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Nothing contained in this article should be considered legal advice.  For legal advice about any situation you should contact an attorney directly.