Do you think were intentionally set up by a law enforcement agent to commit a crime? Did any secret agents persuade you to engage in the unlawful activity? It is illegal for a law enforcement officer to use coercion to force you to commit a crime. If you believe that you have been entrapped by a police officer, you can use entrapment evidence as a legal defense in court.
So, what is entrapment? Keep reading to find out what entrapment is and if it is illegal. If you have been involved in an entrapment crime, it's important to understand what a crime under coercion entails and how your Chicago criminal defense lawyer can help you.
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What is Considered Entrapment?
The definition of entrapment is when someone has been coerced into committing a crime by an undercover law enforcement or government official. It occurs when the police use tactics that would otherwise induce an innocent person to commit a crime they would not have committed without the influence of the officer.
Entrapment does not occur if an agent of law enforcement simply gives you the chance to commit a crime, as the court expects you to refuse the opportunity in most situations. In order for entrapment to be established, law enforcement personnel must have engaged in conduct that would have caused an otherwise law-abiding person to commit the crime. This includes using threats, harassment, fraud, flattery, psychological manipulation, or other forms of coercion.
In order to successfully defend against entrapment, it must be proven that the defendant was induced, persuaded, or coerced by law enforcement officials to commit a crime they would not have committed otherwise. Sometimes a case will be considered a 'subjective entrapment' criminal charge, and in this case, jurors must determine if the defendant was already inclined to commit the crime, regardless of any behavior from law enforcement. It is essential to understand that the entrapment defense cannot be used to absolve charges of crimes such as rape or murder.
Is Entrapment Illegal?
The act of entrapment is illegal and can be used as a defense in court. The legal term "entrapment" prohibits law enforcement from creating a criminal plan, planting the idea to commit an illegal act in someone who previously was not thinking of doing so, and encouraging them to break the law so they can be prosecuted.
What Are Some Examples of Entrapment?
In the United States, entrapment often involves criminal activities such as prostitution, white-collar crimes, and drug trafficking. Let's look at some examples of police entrapment to get a better sense of it:
Prostitution is one of the most common forms of entrapment. For example, this occurs when law enforcement officers attempt to trap an individual who they believe is already involved in a sex crime. The officer may act as someone interested in sex or engage in illegal behavior, hoping to coerce or manipulate the person into committing a crime. In some cases, this can involve offering money for sexual services or even threatening physical harm if the person does not comply with their demands.
Entrapment through prostitution can be particularly damaging for those caught up in it, as it can lead to serious legal consequences and social stigma. It also has a long-term impact on victims, who may suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues due to their experience. Furthermore, it can be difficult for victims to trust law enforcement agents again after being subjected to such tactics. Therefore, it is important that law enforcement officers use caution when attempting to entrap individuals suspected of involvement in sex crimes.
White Collar Crimes
White-collar crimes are those that involve the use of deception or fraud for financial gain. They can range from embezzlement to insider trading and tax evasion. When an employer suspects that one or more of their employees is committing a white-collar crime, such as a currency crime, law enforcement may take steps to catch them in the act. This often involves investigators attempting to charm or induce the employee into committing the offense.
The goal of this tactic is to manipulate the suspect enough so that they will reveal incriminating information and commit a crime while under surveillance. Investigators may also use other tactics such as offering rewards for information, conducting interviews with witnesses, and gathering evidence through search warrants and subpoenas.
Reverse trafficking is a common police tactic used to combat drug trafficking. In this strategy, police use confidential informants to lure individuals who are not already involved in the drug trade into participating in a drug deal. The informant will often target people who are in vulnerable financial situations and promise them quick cash to fix their money problems.
The person is supplied with cash to buy a kilogram or more of cocaine, and they are promised a small percentage of the cash from the deal in exchange for their participation. However, what they don't know is that they are actually buying cocaine from an undercover officer, making it a set-up.
Another example of drug trafficking entrapment is if an undercover police officer stages an armed drug trafficking scene in which they threaten someone's life to convince them to proceed with the drug trade.
What Is the Difference Between a Sting Operation and Entrapment?
Unfortunately, a lot of criminal acts are motivated or influenced by other individuals, and more often than not, the "other party" is made up of undercover law enforcement officers. It can be hard to discern the distinction between a sting operation and entrapment since there is a lot of grey area between the two. Law enforcement officials may carry out sting operations to accumulate proof against someone they assume is guilty of a crime, although this is commonly misconceived as entrapment.
Sting operations and entrapment are similar, but they do possess distinct differences; while sting operations are legal, entrapment is not. Sting operations have the intention to tempt the suspect to commit the crime; however, it does not involve cohesion or persuasion to commit the crime.
Nevertheless, it is quite alarming that undercover sting operations permit undercover police officers to be untruthful and deceitful. The line between a sting operation and entrapment is grey, but it mainly rests on whether or not the officers have legitimately convinced someone to commit a crime through coercion or persuasion. If they are merely deceiving them, it's considered part of the sting operation which is totally legal.
Sting operations are an accepted law enforcement strategy for obtaining evidence of wrongdoing from suspects. Sting operations, although controversial due to their powerful role in convicting criminals, remain legal and it is unlikely that this will change.
Understanding Entrapment as a Defense Against Criminal Charges
If law enforcement officials use coercion or persuasion to get you to commit a crime, you and your attorney can use this as an effective defense strategy in court. The government should not employ coercive, fraudulent, or other tactics to encourage individuals to violate the law. Entrapment in Illinois can be used as an “affirmative” defense in criminal proceedings, whereby you are admitting that you committed the offense but providing a justification for your actions.
The key factor in determining whether or not entrapment has occurred is if there was government inducement. For example, if a law enforcement agent attends a party and asks an individual to sell him or her illegal narcotics, the individual may face arrest and possible conviction for drug distribution. However, if the police officer threatened the individual's safety or implied that failing to deliver the drugs would result in physical violence, this could be considered entrapment and provide grounds for dismissal of criminal charges.
In order to create a valid entrapment defense against criminal offense charges, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a government agent induced, or persuaded, you into committing a crime you would not have otherwise committed. It is important for you to understand your rights and which entrapment elements can help you build your defense.
Speak with a Lawyer Today!
If you believe you have been subjected to entrapment by law enforcement officers, it is important that you seek legal advice from an experienced attorney who can help protect your rights and ensure that justice is served for the committed offense.
We can help you understand entrapment laws and create an affirmative defense in your criminal charges case. Contact a criminal defense attorney today at Ktenas Law to help assess your case and discuss your legal defense. Call us at 312-756-8652 to set up a free consultation at our Chicago office.