This question cannot be answered without knowing specific facts and what evidence is available. Each case has it owns set of separate and distinct facts and evidence. Whether it is unlawful will depend on what transpired and what can be proven. You will need a skilled defense attorney. He/she may be able to consult with you and give you a general answer based on scenarios. However, the lawyer would need to review the facts and evidence specific to your case to tell you whether in his/her opinion the government did something that would be considered unlawful.
Be careful about submitting that type of information (specific facts/evidence matters) in a public forum such as this as it will not be confidential.
The information provided is not advice but a legal perspective and you should schedule a consultation with the lawyer of your choice.
It is impossible to snwer this question without knowing all the facts. The police are allowed to be in public and observe whoever they want. Therefore, if they were just in public and observed something happen they are entitled to act on what they have seen. They are also allowed to set up stings to catch target people in public. If they over step their bounds then the charge can be thrown out. As a former prosectuor with the Harris County District Attorney's office I saw many successful charges based off of stings and dismissed many cases because of police misconduct. If you or someone you know has an issue regarding one of these cases I would recommend consulting an attorney in the Houston area. Many attorneys, including myself, offer free consultations. Shop around if you need to and find someone with experience that can help you.
Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship. Legal advice has not been given. Also, this question and answer is posted on a public forum and therefore any attorney-privilege is waived.
There is no way to answer your question as far as a specific situation.
However, law enforcement has wide ranging authority to set up sting operations, and does so frequently when dealing with crimes such as drugs, prostitution, and sale of stolen goods.
Floating on the edge of your question is what lawyers call "entrapment", which in a very general sense is when law enforcement persuades a person who had no prior disposition to commit a crime to do a crime, and the means of persuasion are such as a court decides would overcome the natural resistance of an innocent person who was not already pre-disposed to do a crime.
All this is stuff for the "target" to use your word to talk about with a reputable criminal defense lawyer of his or her choice.
Answers on Avvo are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney / client relationship is created by providing this answer. For specific advice about your situation, you should consult a competent attorney of your choosing.
The answer is yes. Federal agents do this all the time. I have a case like this now.
The better question is what happens when they do it? There is a defense of entrapment that might apply if the government's enticement is so big that it would cause an otherwise law-abiding person to commit the crime. But if the enticement is nothing more than creating an opportunity to commit a crime for monetary gain then it won't make any difference that the information that led them to the citizen was false. He will be prosecuted nonetheless and those types of things will only be relevant to sentencing.
You really need an experienced lawyer to look at your situation.
*** The fact that you solicited advice over a public forum waives any attorney-client privilege thus far. In addition, communications over this forum do not create any attorney-client relationship. To have a privileged conversation and/or establish an attorney-client relationship, contact me using the following information: Peyton Z. Peebles III Capitaine, Shellist, Peebles & McAlister, LLP, 713-715-4500 (office) 713-715-4500 (cell) Peebles@TexasLegalTeam.net www.TexasLegalTeam.net