Thanks to crime procedurals, many people believe that they have a good idea of what entrapment is. The truth is that it is more complex than you may think. The police are very familiar with the rules and will often get as close as possible without actually breaking the law themselves. Keep reading to find out what entrapment is, what it isn’t, and what to do if you believe you were entrapped.
What Exactly is Entrapment?
There are actually different definitions for entrapment – it all depends on which course is hearing a case. California requires three conditions for entrapment to be used as a defense:
- Law enforcement must communicate with the suspect before the crime occurs.
- Law enforcement must induce the suspect to commit the crime.
- Law enforcement must create a situation in which a typical law-abiding person would be moved to commit a crime.
Proving these three elements can be difficult, especially because law enforcement has wide leeway regarding what they can and cannot say when they are undercover. For example, they do not have to tell you that they are a police officer – even if you ask. They can lie about many things to gain trust. One thing they cannot legally do is to tell you that what they are requiring of you is not a crime.
Situations That Do Not Constitute Entrapment
Note that if a member of law enforcement suggests or asks you to commit a crime, it does not always constitute entrapment. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that law enforcement providing an opportunity for a person to commit a crime does not mean they are not guilty of that crime. It is also not entrapment to make committing a crime appealing.
For example, if an undercover police officer told you that there was an unlocked car with a key in the ignition and suggest you steal the car, you would like still be guilty of auto burglary because a “normal person” would not have stolen the car in the same circumstances.
Let Your Attorney Determine if You Have Been the Victim of Entrapment
We know it can be tempting to try and figure out your case on your own. We know that the idea of representing yourself and showing how you were entrapped is appealing. The truth is that the best person to determine if you have been the victim of entrapment is a criminal defense attorney. It is also true that a criminal defense attorney is the best person to convince a judge and/or jury that you were the victim of entrapment.
If you have been charged with a crime and believe you were the victim of entrapment then we urge you to contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation. We are standing by to help you find the best way forward.