What is Entrapment?

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Definition of "Entrapment" in a Criminal Case

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 in Entrapment?

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.

Common Crimes that Involved Entrapment

A victim of entrapment could have been pressured to commit any type of crime, including white collar crimes, drug 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.

Proving Entrapment

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.
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