Recently in the news, an assistant football coach at the University of California at Berkeley got arrested for alleged "solicitation of a lewd act."
Reports indicate that his arrest came as part of an undercover sting, in which a police officer posed as a prostitute. He allegedly made the solicitation online and then met up with the undercover officer at a motel.
Undercover prostitution stings are a common law enforcement technique. Sometimes the police officers pose as "johns" and arrest alleged prostitutes; other times, as in this recent case, they pretend to be prostitutes to uncover those who look for sexual services.
Each case is unique, and we don't know all the details about this recent arrest. However, it's worth taking a moment to consider a possible defense against a charge of solicitation, especially in an undercover sting: entrapment.
Checking for entrapment
With entrapment, police officers overstep their bounds. They might pressure a potential suspect into committing an illegal act. They might use threats, harassment, or an excessive amount of persistence.
For example, if a police officer posing as a prostitute comes on strongly to a potential suspect, ignores his hesitation or reluctance, follows him to his hotel room, etc. these actions might constitute entrapment. The suspect might wind up giving in and agreeing to pay for sex, but only after a great amount of pressure, with the police officer encroaching into the suspect's life and personal space.
Instead of waiting to see if the suspect comes to them, and leaving him alone if he doesn't, the police might behave more aggressively to get the suspect to try to compromise himself.
It isn't always clear what constitutes entrapment, which is one reason you should contact a criminal defense attorney for legal assistance. Under California law, solicitation is a misdemeanor, and you can get sentenced to jail time and/or fined hundreds of dollars, even as a first time offender. If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Widomar, Perris, Banning, Hemet, Corona, Winchester or Riverside areas, be sure to reach out to us so that we can review your case and make sure you're getting fair treatment from the criminal justice system.