Entrapment refers to any situation where a person is induced or persuaded to commit a criminal offense by a police officer so that they can obtain evidence to prosecute that person. However, it is important to understand that entrapment does not refer to situations where the person was already pre-disposed to commit a crime and the law enforcement official was merely present to witness the action.
Opportunity versus entrapment
Entrapment generally occurs when government agents or law enforcement officers resort to fraud, flattery, harassment or threats in order to cause a person to commit a crime. Entrapment cases often occur in situations where:
- A police officer poses as a minor online and then encourages the defendant to meet for a sexual encounter
- An undercover law enforcement official poses as a consumer with the intent to purchase drugs from the defendant
- An undercover officer poses as a hooker and then offers sexual services to the defendant
There is a difference between entrapment and providing a person the opportunity to commit a crime. An example of an entrapment case would be if a woman is charged for selling illegal drugs to an undercover police officer after several weeks of the officer stopping by the woman’s home and begging her to sell him drugs despite several refusals.
In comparison, if the police officer begged the woman to provide him with illegal drugs and the woman gave in without hesitation, the police officer’s actions would not be considered entrapment because, although he gave the woman an opportunity to break the law, he did not engage in overbearing or extreme behavior.
The defendant’s role
The Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes states that defendants must inform the prosecutor in writing that they plan to use entrapment as part of their defense strategy. In order for entrapment to be considered as part of their case, defendants must also admit that they did commit the crime for which they have been charged. After defendants have done what they can to prove that they were persuaded by a law enforcement official to commit a crime, it is up to the state to determine whether or not the defendants were predisposed to engage in this illegal behavior.
If it cannot be proven that the defendant would have committed the crime without the temptation caused by a law enforcement official, the entrapment case will likely be successful. Those who have been charged with a crime may benefit from working with an attorney who can provide guidance in building a strong case that proves evidence of entrapment was present.