Over the course of the last four days, the NYPD arrested 141 people in New York City as part of “Operation Take Back” . Basically, undercover officers approached people on the sidewalk and offered to sell them Apple products (iPhones and iPads) at deeply discounted prices. Those people that purchased the goods were then charged with Attempted Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (Penal Law Section 110/165.40), a Class B misdemeanor, under the theory that they were knowingly attempting to acquire stolen iPhones or iPads. Many of those people that were arrested received ACD’s (adjournments in contemplation of dismissal) at arraignments, but not after spending 24 hours or more in jail. In many ways, the operation calls to mind the widely-criticized “Operation Lucky Bag” from earlier this year.
In our view, many of these arrests probably constitute entrapment by the police. After all, there is not likely to be any evidence that any of the arrested people had any predisposition to purchase stolen iPhones or iPads, or that they were actively seeking to do so. Entrapment is a defense to a criminal charge whereby the accused argues that he would not have committed the crime but for police action. The specific elements of the defense are available here. Moreover, we are hearing reports that at least some of the arrested people had no reason to believe that the iPhones or iPads were stolen, as undercover officers told them that they owned the Apple products and urgently needed to sell them to make money. If true, these police officers, in our view, acted outrageously and created false reasons to make improper arrests of law-abiding people. (We doubt that any of these officers were actually wearing wires to record their conversations with their targets, precisely for this reason). Accordingly, those victims of the police misconduct should contact civil rights attorneys to file lawsuits against the NYPD for false arrest and other violations of their constitutional rights.
If you or a loved one were arrested as part of “Operation Take Back,” you should seriously consider contacting the experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP. Their team of former Manhattan prosecutors can help you defend against criminal charges from these arrests of file lawsuits on your behalf against the NYPD for false arrest.