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Judge: Criminal charges should be dropped against California man

Law enforcement authorities will often go to great lengths, and utilize very aggressive tactics, to charge someone with a criminal offense. As the stakes in their efforts get higher, they may make some questionable -- and sometimes legally suspect -- decisions to try and get what they want. And when the federal agencies are at the center of these efforts, there can be large amounts of money, resources and the reputation of officers involved.

That is apparently the case in the recent filing of charges against a man accused of drug crimes. For three years, the man was targeted and manipulated by an undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent. Seemingly out of desperation, the agent tried any tactic he could to try and get the man to participate in criminal activity. 

However, the charges that were ultimately filed may be dismissed. The government's efforts did not uncover criminal activity, but rather "generated a wholly new crime for the sake of pressing criminal charges," according to a federal judge's statement.

According to reports, the man was befriended by the agent and the two were "friends" for three years. The agent believed that the man was involved with a motorcycle gang. However, it didn't take long for the agent to learn that the man was law-abiding and had no role in drug trafficking or the sale of illegal guns. In fact, the man rejected the undercover agent's requests to help him buy guns or cocaine.

That didn't stop the agent. He persisted and resorted to exploitation and making claims that he was financially desperate for the man to finally agree to just introduce him to someone suspected of selling cocaine. Later, he was manipulated to participate in a second transaction. ATF agents were satisfied and filed felony charges for drug trafficking against the man.

Not surprisingly, these tactics are now under the microscope by federal judges. The extreme efforts did nothing to uncover illegal activity and actually destroyed a man's life by getting him to relapse with cocaine and re-engage in criminal activity.

This is one very strong example of how underhanded law enforcement efforts can be and why it can be so crucial to have legal representation to scrutinize police procedures. In cases like this one, it can be possible to pursue the dismissal of charges.

Source: ThinkProgress, "Federal Judge Blasts ATF For Luring Man With No Criminal Record Into Trafficking Cocaine," Nicole Flatow, July 18, 2014

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