If you are normally a law-abiding individual, who happens to get caught doing something illegal, can you claim entrapment? It all depends on the circumstances …
Law enforcement and public officials can legally offer individuals the opportunity to commit a crime, but judges generally expect people to resist ordinary temptation to do so. On the other hand, the entrapment defense arises when law enforcement or public officials ‘pull out all the stops’ to entice someone to commit a crime. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Consistent and Persistent Appeals to Sympathy
- Playing on Emotions – For example, by visiting your home on a daily basis to ask you for help
- Harassment / Intense Pressure
- Cash Inducement
Different states impose different standards for the defense of entrapment. Some states impose an objective standard, meaning that after evidence is presented, a jury decides whether an official’s actions did indeed induce criminal behavior on an individual’s part. In 1997, the Arizona legislature codified the entrapment defense by enacting § 13-206, which provides that the defendant must “admit by testimony or other evidence the substantial elements of the offense charged,” meaning that the defendant must state that they did commit the crime they have been charged with, in order to claim that they were coerced into committing it. (See State of Arizona v. Maverick Kemp Gray.) Other states use a subjective standard, meaning that if an individual offers entrapment evidence, the jurors look to that individual’s predisposition to commit such a crime. Under the subjective standard, even if an official’s actions fall under the above listed inducements, if the jury deems it likely that the individual would have committed the crime, the entrapment defense is mute.
There are many instances where law enforcement and public officials attempt to create opportunities for individuals to commit criminal acts, from selling drugs to payment for sexual favors, and there are many arenas where these opportunities may appear. When you know and understand that any activity you may take, based on these opportunities, are illegal, and that you may be arrested … take a step back. Do you really want to get arrested for selling drugs to someone you don’t know because they approach you at party, know that you have pain medication with you, and ask once to purchase some for their mother, as she could use some of this medication to ease her pain? Certain websites promote the opportunity to engage in illegal activities, such as prostitution. When you call and arrange for services at a designated time and place, did anyone harass or threaten you to make that call?
Taking advantage of an opportunity to commit an illegal act is not entrapment. Be careful and sensible. Actions you take don’t usually just affect YOU. Think about your actions in the broadest perspective possible and make prudent decisions. Whether you are in your 20s, 50s, or 80s, your decisions can be impactful on you, your family, friends, employers, etc.
Be smart, make good decisions, and stay safe this holiday season.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not an attorney, and this article is not meant to give legal advice. If legal advice is needed, please consult a licensed attorney.