Entrapment is a possible legal defense that can be used against a variety of criminal charges. In order to be convicted of a crime, a defendant must engage in the alleged unlawful conduct willingly and voluntarily. If a law enforcement officer convinces someone to commit a crime that they would not have otherwise committed, they did not commit the crime voluntarily under the law and can raise the defense of entrapment.
Entrapment is a rare defense and generally stems from undercover sting operations. In such an operation, an officer may deceptively pose as someone interested in criminal activity, whether as a partner or a victim. While an undercover officer should only be gathering evidence of criminal activity, officers may often persuade others into engaging in criminal activity that they were not previously planning. When a sting operation rises to this level, it can constitute illegal entrapment.
Federal agencies often use deep undercover operations to catch individuals involved in large-scale criminal schemes. They have the funds to conduct ongoing investigations during which undercover officers work closely with suspects, often engaging in criminal activity. For this reason, entrapment is often more common in federal criminal court. So how do you know whether the conduct of an undercover officer crossed the line into entrapment? The best way is to have a skilled federal criminal defense lawyer examine the circumstances of your case.
Entrapment can be a problem in many situations, as law enforcement agencies use sting operations to catch many types of offenders. Some charges for which entrapment may be a viable defense include:
Entrapment can occur in many different situations. Some scenarios include the following:
In all of the above situations, you were never planning to commit a crime. However, the undercover officer either provoked or coerced you into doing so. In these situations, you could defend against your criminal charges by claiming entrapment.
It is important to remember that not every deception by a police officer will rise to the level of entrapment. For instance, it is not illegal for an undercover agent to lie to you and tell you they are not a cop and that this is not a set-up. It’s also not illegal for an agent to give you the opportunity to commit a crime. If an officer asks you for drugs and you willingly sell him some, it is not entrapment even if he was lying to you. Instead, the agent or officer must convince you to do something illegal that you otherwise would not have done.
When you claim entrapment, the federal prosecutor must then prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
A jury will determine whether you had a predisposition for such criminal activity based on the evidence presented by the prosecution, or whether the agent put the idea of the criminal design into your head. Federal juries can consider the following factors when making this determination:
When examining these factors, the jury will decide whether you were reluctant until the undercover agents convinced you to follow through.
All criminal convictions come with serious consequences - especially federal convictions. You want to explore every possible defense available in your case, and if an undercover operation was involved, entrapment may be a viable defense.
Federal charges can have severe consequences, though there are often a number of defenses available, including entrapment. The best way to know whether you were entrapped or if other defenses may apply to your case is to discuss your charges with an experienced Philadelphia federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At Wimmer Criminal Defense Law, we know how to present even the most complex defenses to prevent wrongful convictions. If you’ve been arrested, don’t wait to call 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.