Most people have heard the word “entrapment” on police shows or in movies and have some vague sense of what it involves. It’s crucial to understand what it is if you believe that you were entrapped into committing a crime.
Entrapment typically involves a law enforcement officer persuading someone to engage in criminal conduct that they wouldn’t have otherwise engaged in. These are typically people working undercover. This can include the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other federal agents as well as state and local law enforcement officers.
It can also include civilians whom an agency has tasked to work for them. Often, these are people who have been apprehended and agreed to help apprehend others in exchange for a lesser or no charge. For purposes of entrapment, these are all considered “government agents.”
One important point to remember is that not only are undercover officers, agents or civilians not required to tell you they’re working for authorities. They can lie and say they aren’t if you ask.
When is someone actually “entrapped” into committing a crime?
If a person’s defense is that they were influenced by an undercover agent or informant to commit a crime they wouldn’t have otherwise, all prosecutors have to do is convince a jury that they would have committed the crime regardless of whether the other person was there or not. They’ll look at the circumstances of the alleged crime and how easy it was to get the person to commit it.
If someone is arrested for selling drugs, for example, they may have a hard time claiming entrapment unless the person working undercover somehow exerted undue influence on them. If they were prepared to sell drugs to anyone who was interested, an entrapment defense isn’t likely to work. If, however, someone working undercover threatened or badgered a person into committing a crime they wouldn’t otherwise have committed, they would likely have a solid entrapment defense.
Entrapment can occur in virtually any type of criminal activity, from drug-related crime to white-collar crime. With experienced legal guidance, you can determine whether you can argue that you were entrapped into criminal activity.