What Is Entrapment?
Entrapment is defined as the inducement of a person to commit a crime that they would otherwise have been unlikely to commit. It is considered a form of police misconduct that denies citizens of their constitutional rights against self-incrimination. In order for entrapment to be successful, the government must have induced or persuaded the individual to commit a criminal act, rather than simply offered them the opportunity to do so.
What Is Criminal Entrapment?
Entrapment causes an otherwise innocent person to perform a criminal act for the purposes of prosecution; entrapment can only be committed by a government agent and in order to prove that entrapment took place, several other facts must be established. If a defense attorney can prove an entrapment existed, the defendant cannot be found guilty of the charges, as the government used entrapment to arrange the commission of the crime.
Entrapment Defense Strategy
The entrapment defense is a strategy used by individuals charged with crimes to claim that they were unlawfully induced or persuaded by law enforcement to commit the crime. The argument is that if it weren’t for the entrapment, the person wouldn’t have committed the criminal offense in the first place. If this can be proven, then the defendant may be legally exonerated of the charges brought against them. This article will provide an overview of the legal definition and elements of entrapment, discuss how it is applied in court, and explore ways to effectively defend against entrapment allegations.
Is it Entrapment?
Government agents only commit entrapment when they implant the idea to perform a crime in an innocent person’s mind. An entrapment defense is irrelevant if the government merely afforded the opportunity to commit the crime; for entrapment to take place, the individual must prove unlikely to commit the crime in the absence of entrapment, and the government must also create an incentive for the defendant to commit the crime. Entrapment situations alter the risks and benefits to increase the likelihood the crime will occur.
In entrapment cases, inducement can refer to persuasion, misrepresentation, threats, coercion, harassment, or pleas based on sympathy. Entrapment defenses must first prove the government induced the defendant to commit the crime, next the entrapment case must prove the defendant’s predisposition indicates that the crime would not have occurred without entrapment by the government.
Elements of Entrapment
In order for a successful defense to occur, it must be established that three separate elements of entrapment were present: (1) improper government conduct; (2) predisposition of the accused to commit the crime; and (3) causation.
Improper Government Conduct
The first element refers to the question of whether or not the law enforcement agency employed improper tactics or methods during their investigation. Examples of such conduct include threats, harassment, deceit and fraud, promises of reward, appeals to emotions, and other forms of overreaching and/or intimidation.
Predisposition of the Accused To Commit the Crime
The second element requires proof that the accused was predisposed to committing the crime prior to any contact with law enforcement. In other words, the attorney must demonstrate that their client had already formed a plan or intent to commit the crime before being contacted by the police.
The third element requires causation between the accused’s actions and the improper governmental conduct. This means that without the intervention of law enforcement agents, there would not have been a successful prosecution of the accused. The evidence presented must show a link between the inducement and the crime in order for entrapment to be successfully argued.
Application in Court
When defending against entrapment charges, your attorney should begin by examining in detail all of the facts surrounding your interactions with law enforcement officials. They must also review any video or audio recordings made at the time of your arrest and analyze any other material evidence collected during the investigation process. Your attorney should also consider any extenuating circumstances surrounding your arrest and review any testimony given by witnesses to support your defense.
Effective Defense Strategies
There are several effective strategies that may be employed when attempting to construct a valid entrapment defense, such as raising reasonable doubt about prosecution evidence and pointing out inconsistencies in witness accounts. Additionally, highlighting any extreme tactics taken by law enforcement officials which were aimed at inducing criminal behavior may help prove unlawful entrapment occurred. Ultimately, each situation is unique and it is best to consult with a skilled attorney regarding the specifics of your case and what legal strategies are available for your defense.
Defendants requiring little or no inducement to commit crimes may find entrapment difficult to prove, as they appear predisposed to criminal behavior. To establish that entrapment was not required for the crime to occur, prosecutors must demonstrate that prior to the alleged entrapment, the defendant exhibited behavior indicating a criminal predisposition.
The circumstances under which an entrapment defense may be used are fairly specific, but an attorney familiar with the circumstance for entrapment may be able to give you more information regarding certain situations.