Entrapment is an affirmative defense that is addressed in both state and federal laws. State law addresses it as entrapment, while federal law looks at whether or not there was outrageous government conduct. Entrapment is a situation where a person who normally would follow all laws is somehow enticed or deluded into committing a crime they would not normally commit. Entrapment applies to cases where there is overbearing official conduct- this pressure can present itself in the form of pressure or harassment. In order for entrapment to be used as a viable defense, there has to have been more than just the opportunity to participate in an illegal activity. In the state of California the kinds of official conduct that are considered entrapment are if you are pressured—either through friendship, through compassion, or if you are offered a large sum of money in return for the crime and if you are harassed or lied to and made to believe that the actions you are performing are not illegal. California’s entrapment laws focus on the officer’s behavior and not on your own, this means that your criminal past or character are not considered when deciding whether you were entrapped.
This line of defense can only work when law enforcement officers and other people who work with or help those officers are the primary drivers of the offense. In other words, if your neighbor, an average citizen convinced you to participate in an illegal activity, you could not use entrapment as a defense. Notably, if a person is collaborating with the police and aiding them in convincing you to commit a crime they do not have to know that they are acting as an agent of that officer.
There have been many cases in which entrapment can be used as a defense. A hypothetical case could be one where there is an individual, driving in an area known for prostitution. A woman approaches him on the street that asks him if he would like her services. In this case there is a police officer that is posing as a prostitute. The officer does not relent on asking him to purchase her services, bargaining the price down for him, following him for a few blocks attempting to convince him. After a little while the man stops ignoring her and stops walking, he agrees to utilize her services and is later charged for it. He has an entrapment defense because he kept walking and ignored her for a while before he gave in. It can therefore be argued that a normal, law abiding citizen would have done the same.
Although both of them could potentially get charges dismissed, there is a difference between entrapment and outrageous police conduct. Entrapment is a fact that the jury needs to consider—they have to decide that the defendant has been entrapped by law enforcement. Outrageous police conduct is up to the judge to decide. They must look over the evidence and decide whether the officer behaved in a way that would be considered outrageous. Outrageous behavior in these cases has to be so bad that it violates your constitutional rights. An aggressive criminal lawyer can help you with an entrapment defense.
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge and believe you were a victim of entrapment, you need an sucessful Orange County criminal defense lawyer on your side. With offices in Costa Mesa, we serve people throughout Southern California, including in Huntington Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles. Call (855) 505-5588 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.