Entrapment Issues

Entrapment Issues

Entrapment refers to a situation in which an individual is arrested for a crime that he or she would not have committed were it not for the encouragement or coercion of law enforcement. If a police officer uses coercion and other tactics that induce or persuade someone to commit a crime, this is a type of entrapment and a valid defense for criminal charges that might arise as a result of entrapment.

Entrapment or Opportunity?

Just because an individual is presented with the opportunity to commit a crime does not mean that person was a victim of entrapment. Most ordinary people resist opportunities to break the law, which is what judges will expect of you. The difference between the two occurs when government agents cross a line and engage in fraud, harassment, or even flattery to make a victim commit crimes.

For example, Joe was charged with selling illegal drugs to a police officer who was working undercover. The drugs are for Joe’s personal use, but the undercover officer begged him to sell some to her for over 2 weeks, claiming that her mother was suffering from a fatal illness and in need of drugs to relieve her pain. After refusing her repeatedly, Joe felt bad and finally sold the undercover officer part of his stash, for which he was immediately arrested. This situation goes beyond opportunity and involved repeated pleas and harassment until Joe finally gave in. Entrapment, in this case, would be the appropriate and most effective defense.

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On the other hand, if Joe sold drugs from her personal stash while at a party after the undercover officer asked him to, and still claiming to have a sick mother, this would simply be a case of opportunity rather than entrapment. Officers are allowed to lie and, in this case, the officer did not engage in any extreme behavior as in the above example. Joe could have refused to sell the drugs, but he took the opportunity.

Subjective and Objective Standards

There are 2 types of standards that are used to determine if entrapment occurred: subjective and objective.

Objective: If using the objective standard, jurors would decide if a law enforcement officer’s actions would have caused a normally law-abiding citizen to commit the same crime.

Subjective: An entrapment defense is not as likely to be successful under a subjective standard. This standard asks jurors to decide if a defendant’s predisposition to commit the crime in question makes the defendant responsible for such actions, regardless of the inducements of law enforcement.

The majority of states, including Florida, use the subjective test, examining both the nature of the enticement and the defendant’s state of mind.
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Who Can Commit Entrapment?

Entrapment only applies to government agents. It was designed to prevent extreme and outrageous conduct by law enforcement or other such officials and, as such, does not apply to private individuals. If Kyle, a private individual, convinces someone to commit a crime, his actions do not constitute entrapment.

Factors Considered in an Entrapment Case