There is a fine line between providing someone with the opportunity to
commit a crime and coercing them into action. When a person is coerced
into committing a crime or otherwise pressured through overbearing tactics,
he or she may have just cause to argue entrapment as a defense to criminal charges.
Who is involved?
Entrapment claims typically occur between a police officer and defendant,
though they can involve other government agents. As a rule, entrapment
laws do not apply to private parties, but are specifically set up to protect
citizens from unfair law enforcement activities. That being said, entrapment
defense usually involves a law enforcement officer, though it can include
government agents like public officials. The crimes involved in cases
of entrapment can also vary greatly.
Types of Crimes
A victim of entrapment could have been pressured to commit any type of crime,
including white collar crimes,
violent crimes, or theft. Entrapment typically includes the use of a repugnant behavior
to incite someone to break the law, including the use of threats, harassment,
flattery, or fraud. However, the line between presenting someone with
the opportunity to break the law and compelling them to do so can be extremely thin.
For example, if an officer is undercover and asks Jane to sell him illegal
drugs, he merely presented her with the opportunity to commit a
drug crime and therefore did not commit entrapment. However, in another scenario,
if the officer asked Jane to sell him illegal drugs, she refused, and
he harassed her for weeks until she gave in, he likely committed entrapment.
However, officers and certain government agents are permitted to lie in
order to smoke out a criminal. Therefore, because the duties of an officer
can sometimes be hard to assess, these cases are usually left to the court
for nondiscriminatory judgement.
The court will then determine whether or not a reasonable person would
have been able to resist the temptation to commit the same crime. Courts
will assess the entrapment defense by either subjective or objective standards.
By subjective standards, the jurors will determine if the defendant was
predisposed to commit the crime by his or her own actions, rather than
the actions of the officer or government agent involved.
Objective standards, on the other hand, are often easier to prove, as it
requires the jury to examine whether or not the actions of the government
agent’s actions would have enticed any other law-abiding citizen
to act in the same way, thereby committing a crime. It is also very important
to understand that entrapment is an affirmative defense, which means the
defendant must prove the entrapment existed.
If you believe you were the victim of entrapment and you are currently
facing criminal charges, our firm may be able to help.
Contact The Law Offices of Daniel J Miller
for a free consultation regarding your case.