Question: What is entrapment?
Criminal Defense Lawyer: Entrapment is a defense raised by a defendant against a criminal charge that claims the crime would not have occurred if government agents had not induced the defendant to commit the crime in the first place. In other words, entrapment claims the police conceived the idea for the crime and provided the means, motive and or opportunity for the defendant to do the criminal act.
This is another case in which the defendant should carefully consult with his or her criminal defense lawyer about whether or not to raise the claim of entrapment. It does carry a risk as a defense, because the defendant is all but admitting that he or she did in fact commit the crime. Except that the government somehow caused the defendant to take the final step and cross over the law.
One famous example was a man who had sought out psychological help because he was strongly tempted to view child pornography. Upon learning this, the government set up a sting operation to lure this man into purchasing such material with repeated offers.
When he subsequently succumbed (and only then after receiving many solicitations) he was arrested for purchasing the material.
He was eventually found not guilty after he and his criminal defense lawyer raised the defense of entrapment. He claimed that the government conceived of the idea for the crime knowing that he had such a predisposition, and then induced him to purchase the illegal material.
Another famous case involved the car maker, John DeLorean. At the time, DeLoreanís car company that made the gull-winged silver cars featured in the Back To The Future Movies, was in deep financial trouble.
Seizing upon this situation, undercover government agents approached DeLorean, who had no prior criminal record, with the offer to distribute cocaine with the promise that the money raised would be enough to save his car company.
Again, DeLorean was found not guilty after he and his criminal defense lawyer raised the defense that drug enforcement agents targeted him solely because they knew of his financial struggles, and felt he would be susceptible to an offer to engage in illegal drug trafficking.
An entrapment defense assumes a crime was committed, so it can be a risky strategy to make in court. It also almost always requires that the defendant testify on his/her own behalf, which is another risky strategy.
The defendant, not the government, bears the burden of proving that the crime would not have occurred at all if not for the actions of government agents. But under the right circumstances, a defendant and criminal defense lawyer may decide that it is the best approach to take.
COPYRIGHT(C)2007, Charles Brown. All rights reserved.