Entrapment In Criminal Cases: What It Is And How It Can Affect Your Case
Entrapment is a common lament among those that have been charged with a crime and feel they were “set up”. More than just a complaint, however, entrapment is a valid affirmative defense to a criminal charge when the defendant committed the crime due to the coercion of a law enforcement official. If the defendant can show that, without such coercion, the crime would not have taken place, the case could be subject to dismissal on the grounds of entrapment.
Florida Statutes, Sec. 777.201 describes the act of entrapment as when a law enforcement officer, someone cooperating with a law enforcement officer, or someone acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer:
- Induces, encourages, or persuades a person in a manner creating a “substantial risk” that the person will then commit the crime in question, for the purpose of obtaining evidence against them; and
- As a direct result of the encouragement or inducement, the person then engages in conduct constituting the suggested crime.
Under Florida law, a defendant may be acquitted if they can show – by a preponderance of evidence – that the conduct occurred as a result of the entrapment. The “preponderance” standard is helpful for defendants because it does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It only requires that a defendant show it was “more likely than not” that the law enforcement actions constituted entrapment under the law.
Traditionally, the entrapment defense was made available by U.S. courts to “secure justice by precluding the government from convicting a defendant of a crime where government action instigated the defendant’s conduct.” See Dial v. State, 799 So. 2d 407 (2001). For law enforcement to formulate a crime scheme and then coerce an individual to participate in the scheme goes against the interests of justice, in other words.
Florida courts recognize two types of entrapment: subjective entrapment and objective entrapment.
Subjective entrapment focuses on the defendant and whether or not they were predisposed to committing a certain offense. (A long track record of drug dealing may make it more likely they would have dealt again regardless of the alleged coercion by law enforcement, for example.) If the defendant shows by a preponderance of evidence that entrapment occurred, the burden would shift and the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s predisposition meant they would have committed the crime regardless of law enforcement’s encouragement.
Objective entrapment focuses on the conduct of law enforcement, and whether their actions were improper or egregious enough to be considered entrapment, regardless of a defendant’s predisposition to the crime. Initiating a conversation with the defendant about plans to kill someone, for example, then providing all tools, weapons, and planning information to carry out the act would cross the line into entrapment under this objective standard.
The issue of entrapment frequently arises in drug cases, where a defendant was coerced into buying or selling narcotics, or in “murder for hire” schemes. However, the defense is available in any Florida criminal case where the accused might have been induced or “set up” by law enforcement officers or those cooperating with law enforcement.
The Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys at Joshi Law Firm, PA Know the Defenses Available to You and Can Help You Make the Entrapment Argument
If you were arrested and charged with any type of crime, and believe law enforcement played a role in entrapping or “framing” you for the criminal conduct, you have important legal options including a potential entrapment defense. If successful, the affirmative defense of entrapment could lead to acquittal and a successful resolution of your case.
To learn more, contact our Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Joshi Law Firm to review all facts and the prosecution’s evidence to determine the legal strategies available to you. Contact our legal team today by completing our online case questionnaire or calling our office today at 407-661-1109.