E - Entrapment

Entrapment - Perpetration of a Crime Through Trickery, Persuasion or Fraud by the Police

Entrapment is an Affirmative Defense:

This means that once an accused alleges entrapment, the burden shifts to prove they were entrapped. They must prove that law enforcement or someone acting in concert with law enforcement, solicited, encouraged or otherwise induced them to commit a crime that they were not otherwise predisposed to commit.  The law enforcement officer must plan and formulate the crime and the accused must commit it only because of the trickery, persuasion, or fraud of the police officer. It's not enough that police merely furnished the accused with an opportunity to commit a crime that he was already predisposes to commit. The courts expect law enforcement to behave in a certain way and not resort to threats, harassment, or fraud. They are however, permitted to lie. I'm summarizing this. It's really quite extensive and if your fictional character is entrapped by a police officer you should learn the law in the jurisdiction of your novel's setting.

There's a clear distinction between inducing someone to commit a crime and setting a trap for him to commit crimes of his own conception. The latter is not Entrapment.


Street Perception of Entrapment is Often Wrong:


A police officer can legally provide a person with the opportunity to commit a crime this does not = entrapment.

Law enforcement officers use an arsenal of weapons to induce another to commit a crime. They might lie, harass, beg, threaten, bargain, or coerce. An opportunity to commit a crime is not sufficient, the officer's conduct must rise to the level of something repugnant. "Judges expect people to resist any ordinary temptation to violate the law. See NOLA


Examples of Opportunity vs. Entrapment:

Example #1


 Kaycee is a known drug user and she has several convictions for selling meth. Nick the Undercover cop, approaches her. 
"Hey ... you holding."
"No. Go away."
He's back the next day. "C'mon. I know you have some. Please. I'm feeling bad here. I need a fix. "
"Uh. Damn. I'm trying to kick this shit. I don't have any, but I have a friend. Wait here. I'll be right back."
Kaycee leaves and returns fifteen minutes later with the meth and sells it to Nick and then Nick makes the arrest.

This is NOT Entrapment.

Example #2

Thomas doesn't have a criminal record. He's a college student at LSU. Mitch's an undercover agent who's been working U/C at the campus for a while, but hasn't been able to get deep enough with any of the drug crowd and his boss is threatening to pull him if he doesn't get him something soon. Mitch has seen Thomas hanging out with with one of the chicks that he knows is the major weed dealer for the campus. Mitch and Thomas have become good friends over the past six months. Mitch has shared with Thomas that his mom is sick with stage four lung cancer. Now Mitch approaches Thomas and asks him if he can score some weed so he can give it to his drying mom. Thomas flat out refuses.

"No way man. That shit's illegal. I don't touch it."
"Okay. I understand." Mitch says.

A few days later Thomas finds Mitch crying outside by his car.

"What's wrong, man?"
"I'm gonna have to drop out of school  — go home. My mom's really bad off." I  — no I couldn't ask you. Not again."


Mitch plays on Thomas' emotions like this for two weeks. He turns up the heat and digs into Thomas' raw, human need to not want his friend's mom to suffer. Even though Thomas is not a criminal, doesn't  smoke marijuana, nor would it ever cross his mind to risk his college scholarship and his career to sell narcotics, this selfish bastard doesn't give a shit and is about to ruin all that for the college kid.

This scenario = Entrapment

What's your opinion on entrapment? A necessary evil? Can you see how easily it can be abused if in the hands of the wrong law enforcement officer?

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