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What is entrapment?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Law enforcement may use tactics such as stings or undercover operations in an effort to catch you and others in the act of breaking the law. However, when their efforts rise to the level of manufacturing crime, it may qualify as entrapment, which may serve as a valid criminal defense. 

Sometimes law enforcement’s interactions with those suspected of committed criminal offenses take place during the commission of the crime, not afterward. While the law allows for the use of tactics that present the opportunity to engage in criminal conduct to alleged criminals, entrapment occurs when law enforcement agents engage in overbearing or otherwise unacceptable behaviors in order to push people into committing crimes. For instance, this may include harassment, threats, flattery or fraud. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in order to prove an entrapment defense, you must show that law enforcement agents induced the crime. Simply having asked you to commit an alleged offense does not qualify as an inducement, though. Rather, the authorities must have at least persuaded or mildly coerced you into engaging in the criminal activity. For example, law enforcement asked you to transport and deliver illicit drugs to another person and return with payment for the package. Merely presenting this opportunity does not rise to the level of entrapment. However, if law enforcement threatened you with physical harm in making their request, their actions may provide grounds for your defense. 

In addition to showing law enforcement pushed for the commission of the crime, you must prove that you would have not engaged in the alleged criminal conduct without the push from law enforcement. To this end, you must show yourself to have been an unsuspecting innocent instead of an unsuspecting criminal who made yourself available to engage in illegal activities. 

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