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Using entrapment as a defense

| Aug 22, 2020 | Firm News |

When undercover police often conduct stings for offenses like selling drugs, they often pose as an informant or customer. When these agents intervene to the point of coercion, however, the potential for taking a sting too far becomes a valid concern because of entrapment.

Entrapment is defined as an officer of the law inducing a person to commit a crime they wouldn’t have committed otherwise in order to get evidence for prosecution. For example, if an undercover cop plants the idea in someone’s head to sell drugs illegally, in certain circumstances, it’s possible that the person might be able to argue that the officer used entrapment to coerce the sale.

For a person facing charges after a sting operation, it can be important to pinpoint any entrapment that occurred, as it can make or break the outcome of the case. In some instances, a judge might drop the case altogether if the defense can prove entrapment.

Distinguishing entrapment from lawful methods

Sometimes, however, there’s a grey area in determining whether entrapment occurred. That’s why representation from an experienced attorney is an absolute necessity, because it can be difficult to determine without a legal professional’s insight.

An officer setting up an opportunity to commit a crime and creating the temptation for it cannot be counted as entrapment. However, any use of force by the officer to instigate the crime qualifies as potential entrapment. This may include:

  • Making threats
  • Committing fraud
  • Intimidation tactics
  • Harassment
  • Pressuring

Any other use of force or involuntary coercion that occurs could also be counted as entrapment.

What recourse do I have to make an entrapment case?

Only an officer or federal agent can create entrapment; use of force by other civilians to convince a person to do the same crime doesn’t fall into that category. An entrapment defense must be declared at the beginning of the trial.

You must prove that you were somehow forced or pressured by an officer to commit a crime that you otherwise would not have done. Indiana law places the burden on the defendant to prove that they wouldn’t have committed the crime otherwise.

Drug cases are an example of more typically successful entrapment defenses. For instance, if an officer threatens or harasses a person into selling drugs, creating a fear-based response in the person, an entrapment argument may carry a lot of weight.

Once you recognize that you’ve possibly been involved in an entrapment, contact an attorney to seek legal counsel so you can begin collecting the evidence you’ll need for your defense.