Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer or government official coerces someone into committing a crime. If the defendant successfully utilizes the entrapment defense, the court may drop all charges against them.
What Qualifies as Entrapment?
According to Florida law, entrapment is when a law enforcement officer or government agent directly caused the defendant to commit the crime. The officer must have utilized coercive methods that posed a risk to the defendant.
However, when it comes to criminal cases, judges expect people to resist temptations to break the law. It is important for the defense to prove that the defendant would not have committed the crime without the officer’s interference. Sting operations, in which police officers create a deceptive operation in order to catch a person committing a crime, are not considered coercion.
Entrapment is typically only used by defendants who admit to committing the crime.
Suppose an officer or agent poses as a drug dealer and tells someone that they will injure them if they do not buy illegal drugs. This constitutes entrapment because the officer is threatening the other person in order to force them to commit a crime.
On the other hand, suppose an officer tells a person with a legal Adderall prescription that they are ill and wish to purchase the drug. This is not entrapment, because the police officer is not forcing the individual to sell him the drugs through coercive methods.
Objective and Subjective Standards
Courts assess entrapment defenses with two different standards: objective and subjective. With an objective standard, jurors do not take the individual’s personal history and background into consideration.
A subjective standard requires jurors to evaluate whether or not the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime. In other words, a subjective standard considers the defendant’s personal background in order to make a decision. In Florida, juries assess entrapment defenses subjectively.
How is Subjective Entrapment Analyzed?
There are three main focuses of a subjective entrapment analysis:
- The officer or agent induced the defendant to commit the crime;
- The defendant was not predisposed to commit the crime; and
- If there is a dispute, the court must submit the entrapment defense to the jury.
Effects of the Entrapment Defense
If an entrapment defense is successfully argued, the court will acquit the defendant. This means the defendant will not suffer legal consequences for committing the crime.
However, entrapment is not illegal. This means that the officer or agent who committed the coercion will not be charged or face jail time. The entrapment defense serves solely as an affirmative defense to criminal charges, and therefore can only be used to help the defendant.
Exceptions to Entrapment
There are some situations that do not constitute entrapment, including:
- When a middleman who is not employed by law enforcement or by the state encouraged the defendant to commit the crime;
- When an officer did not discourage the defendant from committing the crime;
- If the defendant can only provide evidence that the government suggested or initiated the idea of committing the crime, rather than coercing them; and
- When the government agent only supplies contraband (for example, drugs) or makes it more readily available.
Outrageous Government Conduct
Outrageous government conduct is a criminal defense that relates more to the officer’s criminal actions than the defendant’s. It is a criminal act in which the actions of an official entirely undermine the criminal justice system, and is extremely hard to prove. The defense must demonstrate to a judge that the agent’s methods violated a “fundamental fairness.”
If proven, the official(s) will face serious legal consequences. We highly encourage individuals who believe they have experienced outrageous government conduct to consult an attorney.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been involved in a case of entrapment, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.