There’s a thin line between police setting up a legitimate bust to catch a criminal and entrapment. Entrapment is defined as: “the action of luring an individual into committing a crime in order to prosecute the person for it.”
Of one’s own accord
Police will regularly use tactics to catch criminals red-handed by providing opportunities for lawbreakers to commit a crime. However, oftentimes these tactics are considered entrapment when officers create a crime and lure others to fall victim to it. When law enforcement officers send in an undercover agent to buy drugs from a known dealer and the suspect receives the funds and pulls the goods from his coat pocket, it is likely that a crime probably would’ve been committed eventually without the law’s involvement. If the undercover officer hands money to a random citizen, asking them to go find locate drugs and the citizen completes the request, this could be a case of entrapment. If without the police’s coaxing the suspect (or victim) would not have committed a crime, then entrapment laws may apply.
Preying on human desires
One confusing area of entrapment is prostitution. Physical intimacy is a human, carnal desire. When someone intentionally seeks a way to fill this desire by paying another human, it is illegal. As long as the suspect is the one to initiate the quest to fulfill their sexual yearnings by either looking for someone working a corner or calling an ad on Craigslist, they are guilty. It may be considered entrapment though for an attractive undercover agent to prey on a lonely chap sitting alone at the bar, lead him back to a room where he is informed directly before the intimate moment that it isn’t free. Had the agent left the man alone in the company of his drink, chances are that he wouldn’t have gone looking for an expensive one night stand.
Entrapment or just fooled
So what constitutes entrapment and what is just bad luck for a would-be criminal? A few reasons that may be considered entrapment are when:
• There is no way the crime would have taken place without police’s involvement.
• An innocent, law abiding citizen was coerced by police into committing a crime they would normally not have done.
• Law enforcement officials use threats of harm to blackmail someone to do something illegal.
• Police repeatedly ask someone to commit a crime that they originally denied wanting involvement in.
If someone unknowingly offers law enforcement official drugs, or otherwise commits a crime willingly in front of undercover agents without inducement, they may have been fooled, yet it is perfectly legal.
Benefits of non-entrapment situations
Very often, stings are set up to catch criminals who are already in the act of committing a crime, or who would be very soon. When police are certain without a shadow of a doubt that a crime will be committed, it can be beneficial to be in a position to catch the guilty parties. This can lessen the aftermath that would be had they let the criminal follow through with their wrongdoing. This can protect innocent bystanders from falling victim to the crime taking place. Unfortunately, law officers don’t have to be certain or even have a hunch of a potential crime to set up a sting operation. As long as they refrain from forcing an individual from falling into their trap, it is not considered entrapment.
Although entrapment does happen, it is often difficult to prove. Even if you may have been induced into committing a crime, if you are proven to be predisposed for that type of a crime, the judge may rule in the prosecutions favor. A criminal defense attorney can enlighten you as to your rights if you feel you’re the victim of entrapment and help to ensure a solid defense.