Since I was charged because of a “Cops-In-Shops” program, can I proceed to trial and argue that I was entrapped?
In Centre County, Furnishing Alcohol to Minors cases often arise from Underage Drinking parties or from “Cops-In-Shops” programs in which undercover police officers conduct surveillance in State College six pack shops and liquor stores. With regard to the undercover operations, the police are generally looking for a carload of people arriving at the store, but only the passenger enters the store to purchase alcohol. In some situations, the police observe the transfer of money from the driver to the passenger that enters the store and buys the alcohol. After the alcohol is purchased, the police follow the vehicle as it leaves the parking lot. The police continue to follow the vehicle until the purchaser of the alcohol exits from the vehicle without taking all of the alcohol. At that point, the police often conduct an investigative detention and stop both the suspected furnisher and the underage people. The police try to convince the underage people to make incriminating statements against the furnisher, and the police try to have the furnisher make admissions that can later be used in court. While the undercover investigations appear to be overkill for a Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor case, such operations are lawful and do not constitute entrapment. An entrapment defense is an argument that police action induced or caused a person to commit a crime. Entrapment is not a defense to a police plan to physically place officers where criminal activity, such as Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor, is likely to occur.