Entrapment occurs when a government agent persuades or influences you to commit a crime that you otherwise would not have committed. Entrapment is a defense that’s commonly used in criminal cases, but not every defendant can claim entrapment. If you are going to use entrapment as a defense, you need to pay close attention to the italicized words in the definition above.
In general, government agents include law-enforcement officers (local police officers, FBI officers, DEA officers, etc.) and anyone acting on the government’s behalf. Civilians who work undercover as part of an official government investigation can be considered government agents for that investigation.
That means if your dealer gets busted and agrees to act as an informant for the police, your dealer is now a government agent when you’re interacting with them. But if a civilian who is not a government agent convinces you to buy or sell drugs, for example, an entrapment defense won’t work if you are arrested.
The part of the entrapment defense which states “that you otherwise would not have committed” means that entrapment will not be a strong defense if prosecutors can prove that you would have committed the crime anyway.
For instance, if you are arrested for selling drugs to an informant or undercover police officer, prosecutors will likely be able to make an easy argument that you would have sold drugs anyway before the government agents gave you the idea. This will also be true if you are arrested for trying to hire a prostitute if police catch you in a sting operation.
Remember: police can lie to you to get an arrest. If you ask someone if they are a cop first, they don’t have to tell you the truth, and it’s still not entrapment.
State laws vary, but in general, there are two ways to prove entrapment: 1) By proving the defendant would not have committed the crime, but for the undue persuasion or fraud of a government agent and 2) By proving that a government agent encouraged the crime in such a way that it created a risk that a person not inclined to commit the crime would commit it
That means if a government agent badgers you into committing a crime or threatens you with assault or some other consequence for not committing a crime, entrapment may actually be a good defense.
One such case is the Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in Jacobson v. United States. The court found that a man who ordered child pornography would not necessarily have done it, were it not for government agents consistently contacting him to order some over a period of several months.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyerto help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.