What is Entrapment in a Los Angeles Criminal Case?

Entrapment is a defense that may be used in some California Criminal cases. Entrapment is a valid defense when police officers engage in conduct that would cause otherwise law abiding citizens to commit a criminal act or unlawful conduct. Although the concept seems fairly straightforward, it is a very complex defense that must be used properly for it to be effective.

In order for someone to successfully use the entrapment defense a significant distinction must be made between opportunity and pressure, fraud or inducement. If someone is given a mere opportunity by a police officer to commit an unlawful act, it will not be enough to constitute entrapment.

The officer must have pressured you for entrapment to apply. This means applying a significant amount of pressure, not just a minimal amount. They may have offered you a high payment or bothered you until you felt that you had no choice in the matter and felt that you must complete the task they are asking of you. For example, let’s assume an officer is dressed undercover and asks you to sell him some drugs, asking you to engage in the illegal act of California Drug Sales. You politely decline and the officer continues walking along. There is no pressure in this situation, the officer merely asked once and when he was turned down, he left. This is more of an opportunity. The officer offered an opportunity for you to sell drugs illegally, but since nothing came of it both parties went their separate ways.

In comparison, in another situation the officer asks to buy some drugs from you and you decline. As you start to walk away, the officer follows you begging for you to sell him some drugs. Still you refuse but the officer continues to ask you and even tells you that he needs it and will pay you triple the price. This is pressure and not opportunity. The officer is applying steady pressure and trying to persuade you and giving you a high incentive to engage in the illegal act.

The officer may also use harassment to induce a person to commit an unlawful act. Harassment includes threats or unwavering solicitation. Let’s say that an officer calls you and asks you to sell him cocaine, engaging in drug sales and you say no. He then calls you everyday, even shows up at your house asking you to sell him cocaine enough though you have told him you cannot do that. Then he says if you do not sell him cocaine then he will make sure you get fired from your job and remain unemployed. This is pressure and an entrapment defense would be valid in court.

In cases where fraud is used to persuade someone to commit an unlawful act, entrapment will be a successful defense in court. If an officer has explained to you that a certain act is not illegal and you will not be prosecuted, when in fact that is not true, you will have a defense to having committed that act. If the officer explains to you that if you allow him to take drugs from your drawer and leave money without you knowing that it is not a illegal act, there may be entrapment by fraud.

The entrapment defense is very detailed, and will depend on the specific facts of each case. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can explain to you when you have a strong entrapment defense for your case after reviewing the background and facts of your case.