Can Cops Lie?

I am asked more often than I can count: Can cops lie? Or, a client believes if they ask an undercover officer if they were police, they have to admit they are police officers. That is because cops can’t lie, right?
Let’s put this to rest. Cops can, and do, lie and have protection under the law.
This issue came back to me when I read a recent case involving this issue. In People of the State of Michigan v. Jason Lawrence Vansickle, Defendant, who was a registered qualifying patient under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), MCL 333.26421 et seq, was convicted of delivering marijuana to undercover police officers who were posing as medical marijuana patients. Defendant’s motion to dismiss the case based on entrapment was denied by the trial court and affirmed by the Appellate Court.
The basis for Defendant’s motion to dismiss due to entrapment was that he engaged in “friendly banter” with the police and that it was reprehensible for officers to falsely pose as legitimate medical marijuana patients. Defendant also takes issue with the Prosecution’s pretrial motion to preclude any mention, in limine, of the MMMA, as Defendant believes he is entitled to protections as a §4 patient under the MMMA.
The Appeals Court decided that Defendant did not prove to the preponderance of the evidence that he was a victim of entrapment by the Police. Further, the Appeals Court cite the Michigan Supreme Court, with the matter of entrapment, which holds “An official may employ deceptive methods to obtain evidence of a crime as long as the activity does not result in the manufacturing of criminal behavior.” People v Jamieson, 436 Mich 61, 82; 461 NW2d 884 (1990). It is important to note that the burden of proof with regards to entrapment is left up to Defendant and is based on the preponderance of the evidence, which along with the stipulations of when entrapment occurs, is annotated in People v Johnson, 466 Mich 491, 498; 647.
The Appeals court upheld the trial court’s decision to preclude any mention, in limine, of the MMMA in connection with the defendant being a §4 patient, because the Prosecutor showed that under Michigan v McQueen, 293 Mich App 644, 670; 811 NW2d 513 (2011), aff’d on other grounds 493 Mich 135 (2013), patient to patient transfer of marijuana is not protected under the MMMA. Therefore, Defendant does not have a right to §4 immunity related to his sale of marijuana, and any information connected to the MMMA is irrelevant.


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