The Entrapment Defense
Is saying, “So-and-so made me do it” a valid defense to criminal charges? If you claim that someone else induced you to commit a crime, you are acknowledging that you committed the crime, but at the same time, you are denying responsibility. As defense strategies go, it seems like a rookie move. When two kids get caught skipping school, eating cookies that their parents were saving for guests, or doing anything else that they were not supposed to do, each of them will claim that he or she only did it at the other kid’s insistence. If you are being accused of a crime in criminal court, it stands to reason that you should have a more sophisticated defense, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, you can be acquitted of a crime if you can prove that a law enforcement agent induced you to commit a crime. This is known as the entrapment defense, but it only applies in a limited set of circumstances; you cannot use the entrapment defense every time a police officer provokes a defendant to anger or pretends to be a co-conspirator instead of an agent of the law. Here, our Miami criminal defense lawyer explains how the entrapment defense works and why you should not use it if any better defenses are applicable to your case.
What Is the Entrapment Defense?
A jury must acquit a defendant if the prosecution only gathered its evidence against the defendant by violating the defendant’s rights. One of the most egregious examples of law enforcement violating a defendant’s rights in order to obtain evidence is entrapment. Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer induces a defendant to commit a crime that he or she otherwise would not have committed. In order for the entrapment defense to be applicable, the officer must have done more than simply give the defendant an opportunity to commit a crime. Many cases where defendants use the entrapment defense involve undercover operations by police, but these represent only a small fraction of the arrests that result from interactions between defendants and undercover police officers.
The Entrapment Defense in Cases of Drug Possession With Intent to Deliver
Undercover police operations are a common way of investigating drug trafficking activity. You can be charged with possession with intent to deliver if you agree to engage in a drug transaction with an undercover cop, whether you are the one buying or the one selling. In most cases, the entrapment defense does not apply. If an undercover cop offers to buy drugs from you, and you agree, this shows that you are willing to sell drugs. If based on this, the police get a warrant to search your house and find a stash of drugs packaged for sale, this shows that you possessed the drugs and were not just making empty promises about selling them. Therefore, this shows that you possessed the drugs and intended to sell them. If the person who texted you about your alleged stash of drugs had not been an undercover cop, then the transaction would have gone through just like any other drug deal.
The Entrapment Defense in Online Solicitation Cases
Another offense where arrests often begin with communications with undercover officers is online solicitation of a minor. Again, the entrapment defense is usually not applicable. Charges of online solicitation of a minor apply if you discuss plans to meet a minor for purposes of engaging in sexual behavior, but they also apply if you merely induce a minor to view sexually explicit content. Therefore, you can be convicted if you sent sexually explicit images or videos to someone you thought was a minor, even if the people depicted in the adult content were professional actors who consented to be photographed or filmed, and all of them were adults. The point is that you knowingly shared the content with someone under the age of 18. By pretending to be underage, such as by using a profile photo of a teenager or claiming to be younger than 18, the undercover cop was merely giving you the opportunity to commit a crime. It would not be entrapment unless an undercover cop was sitting next to you, threatening to accuse you of a crime or to commit physical violence against you unless you shared explicit content with the person the undercover cop told you to share it with.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys
A South Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if you were arrested after an interaction with an undercover police officer. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo in Miami, Florida for a free, confidential consultation about your case.