Entrapment is one of the most frequently misunderstood defenses to criminal charges. We break it down here in a general sense.
Required Precursors to an Entrapment Charge
In entrapment defense claims, the government must first show the defendant committed the crime. If the government can't prove this, there is no need for an entrapment defense. However, once the government proves the conduct that constitutes the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense of entrapment may be presented to the jury.
The Elements of Entrapment
An entrapment defense generally requires the defense to establish two primary elements:
- The defendant must establish government conduct induced him or her to commit the offense, and
- The defendant must establish he or she was not previously predisposed to commit the crime, but rather did so because of the government inducement.
Examples of Government Conduct Which Might Induce One to Commit a Crime
An undercover agent selling someone drugs would generally be considered “government conduct.” However, this alone is not sufficient to prove the first element of entrapment. For example, if an average person was asked to sell drugs, he or say may simply respond “no.” On the other hand, if the officer threatened the person with physical harm if he or she did not sell drugs, that may be considered inducement to commit the offense.
Examples of “Not Previously Predisposed to Commit the Crime”
However, to prove entrapment, the second element must also be met. The question of whether the government caught an “unwary criminal” versus an “unwary innocent” is often answered by evaluating the next element, whether the defendant was previously predisposed to commit the crime.
If we continue with our drug sale example, the government may seek to prove this element by introducing prior drug convictions. A person with no prior drug sales could be seen as not predisposed to sell drugs, where a person who has recently been convicted of drug sales may be predisposed to sell drugs. Generally speaking, the more recent and the greater number of drug convictions, the more likely the jury will find the defendant was predisposed to selling drugs.
Entrapment as a Defense
Entrapment can be used as a defense in many different types of cases. As you may have determined from the fact patterns provided, whether someone has a legitimate entrapment defense is fact specific. The jury decides whether the defense has provided sufficient facts to establish entrapment.
If You Have Been Charged with a Crime
Of course, no blog post discussion on entrapment can substitute for a careful review of the facts and circumstances of an individual case. If you think you have been the victim of entrapment, only a consultation with a criminal defense attorney will do. Contact The Law Offices of Kensley R. Barrett, Esq. With over seven years of criminal defense experience, representing hundred s of criminal defendants, Kensley R. Barrett has the experience you need to determine whether you have an entrapment defense – or some other defense to the charges against you. Call 401-380–6724 today for a free consultation.