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February 27, 2003

Posted by Teresa at 12:54 AM *

I have decided that true folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the greater the depth and extent you find. Consider this story of a couple of guys who crashed a party. (Thank you, Erik Olson.)

Comments on Fractals:
#1 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2003, 12:45 PM:

That is staggering.

#2 ::: Damien Warman ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2003, 03:10 AM:

It's late and I'm lazy: can someone point me to a definition of entrapment in the US?

#3 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2003, 10:31 AM:

Damien, I'm no lawyer, but I believe the law enforcement official has to coax the criminal into the criminal behavior. If the LEO says "here, hold this bag of pot," he can't then arrest the person for possession.

These guys were already "holding" when they walked in. The cop didn't even initiate the drug conversation!

BTW, "party hunting" (I'm led to understand) is a standard technique of drug dealers. I bet this wasn't even the first party they visited that night. They were dealers dealing, not party crashers who happened to have drugs to sell.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2003, 11:50 PM:

Damien, what Christopher said. If you crash a party at a policeman's house, make an unprompted offer to sell him drugs, leave the house, come back to the house of your own free will in company with a friend who whips out a bag of magic mushrooms, and on having the mushrooms turned down offer instead to provide him with coke--even phoning your supplier and asking him to deliver an additional quantity of coke--then no, it's not entrapment; except insofar as you're trapping the officer into having to arrest you when he's off duty.

#5 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2003, 12:05 AM:

Teresa, I recently noted a similar story in my blog.
This happened in the township where I grew up, no less. The cops and DEA raided a head shop, and even with the police cars out front and officers in uniform in the store, people still came in to buy stuff, not at all discreetly -- one guy had a bag of marijuana hanging out of his pocket!

#6 ::: Damien Warman ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2003, 02:36 PM:

Right, I agree that the guys were dumb: it reminded me of the fellow that tried to roll a donut store one cold quiet midnight.

The story still rubs me the wrong way. I dunno to what extent mushrooms are illegal/controlled in the various states (but I understand about coke) but the cop did let them have enough rope to hang themselves. He seemed to be waiting curiously to see what the gatecrasher would do, instead of saying "this is a private party, what are you doing here?" and then lied about who he was and refused the shrooms in order to escalate the situation.

Hence my query: I can agree that this is not entrapment, but I still wonder what is.

#7 ::: Madeleine Reardon Dimond ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2003, 02:56 PM:

Marlborough! Framingham! Ashland! I live in this now-famous area!

I shall go put my head in a paper bag.

Peace, y'all,

#8 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2003, 11:14 PM:

Damien - the cops doing their job, and doing it well.

No cop worth his salt would turn down such an opportunity. It would be wrong to let these guys walk.

They DID raise the average IQ of the local drug dealers by taking these guys out of circ. Oh well, even antibiotics kill the weakest bacteria first.

I am a die-hard liberal (and proud to say it), and I'm pretty absolutist on civil liberties, and I have nothing but praise for these cops. (I also think mushrooms being illegal is silly, but clearing the country of cocaine seems like a pretty damn good thing to me!)

#9 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2003, 09:27 AM:

"ENTRAPMENT - A person is 'entrapped' when he is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to commit; and the law as a matter of policy forbids conviction in such a case.

"However, there is no entrapment where a person is ready and willing to break the law and the Government agents merely provide what appears to be a favorable opportunity for the person to commit the crime. For example, it is not entrapment for a Government agent to pretend to be someone else and to offer, either directly or through an informer or other decoy, to engage in an unlawful transaction with the person. So, a person would not be a victim of entrapment if the person was ready, willing and able to commit the crime charged in the indictment whenever opportunity was afforded, and that Government officers or their agents did no more than offer an opportunity."


"The accepted standard legal definition of entrapment was stated by Justice Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1932 in Sorrells v. United States:

"'Entrapment is the conception and planning of an offense by an officer, and his procurement of its commission by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion, or fraud of the officers.'

"The key to establishing 'entrapment' in a legal defense relies on the notion of 'predisposition.' The Supreme Court ruled (Jacobson v. U.S., 112 S.Ct. 1535, 1992) that a defendant must have shown a predispostion to commit the crime before any contact may be initiated by police. Predispostion must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, prior to any police contact. The major factor in establishing predisposition traditionally has been the prior criminal record of the defendant."


#10 ::: Damien Warman ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2003, 03:23 PM:

Xopher, your points noted. The story as written does not convince me that these gentlemen were dealers in a strong sense, although I grant that crashing is a modus operandi for some. The bail seems low for folks that the court was seriously interested in.

James, thank you. This lucidly answers my question.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2003, 06:26 PM:

Damien, I have to think they were dealers. I've known people who were into 'shrooms, but they didn't wave bags of them at people they didn't know, and they didn't trip with strangers.

Come to think of it, I've never known anyone who's into psychedelics who's casually tripped with strangers; and you can square and cube that if they're in unknown territory and don't have a reliable way to get home if things get weird.

I also have real trouble believing that a small-scale coke user could call his dealer and ask him to bring some to him at a previously unknown location. That implies a lot more trust than you'd get in a casual customer/retailer relationship.

#12 ::: Damien Warman ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2003, 12:24 AM:

Teresa, thank you. You make excellent points, which accord well with my experience. Otherwise I think that my initial reading of this (perceived smug tone of journalist, off-duty detective making a bust) mostly amounts to cultural differences between US/South Australia (not the same as Australia in toto) and a broad (possibly overbroad) and perhaps naive belief about hospitality, even to crashers.

#13 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2003, 07:23 PM: for another, similiar story. A 911 call leads to cops making interesting discoveries.

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