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The problems with police stings

It is not unusual to read news stories with headlines about drug stings resulting in several arrests. Often, these stories detail police efforts and list the alleged offenders and the crime for which they were arrested.

People often see the number of people netted in the sting and the number of charges and assume that the sting was successful. However, this is a misguided assumption, as the sting is not the end of the story -- especially for the people caught in one. The fact is that stings can be problematic for numerous reasons.

Stings may be improper

There can be multiple agencies, officers and others involved in a sting, meaning many opportunities for mistakes. Should these parties violate a person's rights or fail to follow procedure, it could be possible to pursue dismissal or reduction of charges.

Further, these operations require careful, extensive planning. Despite that, they can be unfair from the start. Recently, for instance, police in another state have ceased sting operations targeting low-level marijuana offenders after a report showed troubling racial disparities.

Increased motivation to get "results"

It may seem impressive to say that dozens of people were arrested and facing multiple charges as a result of the sting, but that does not mean arrests or charges will stick. 

Often agencies devote massive resources to these operations, and they want these efforts to pay off. As such, police may arrest people with tenuous connection to alleged criminal activity or a person who would have otherwise been shown leniency under normal circumstances.

Further, people in this situation often face multiple charges initially. Stacking charges is a common tactic designed to make it more likely that a person will plead guilty to even one of the charges against him or her.

Even if you are caught up in a sting and charged with a drug offense does not mean you are guilty or will go to jail. Not only does every person have the right to defend themselves against criminal charges, but there could be issues with police procedures and operations that call the results into question. As such, it can be important to talk to an attorney to discuss your case.

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