Articles Posted in Entrapment

A commonly used defense in California drug sales, illegal gambling and prostitution cases is entrapment. Entrapment is a defense that the person engaged in unlawful conduct due to the coercion or pressure from a law enforcement officer. To be a successful defense, the person must not be predisposed to committing the illegal act being charged and there must be actual harassment, fraud or pressure directed by law enforcement towards the person charged.

Entrapment is a frequently used in situations where an undercover officer asks to buy drugs or solicit from a person who obliges and are subsequently charged with the sale of drugs or prostitution. If the entrapment defense is successful, then any evidence obtained is excluded from trial. This is what is referred to as the exclusionary rule.

For example, let’s discuss a situation where Person A is a law abiding citizen. He is a family man, is a high paying vice president of a large corporation job and has never been arrested or charged with any criminal offense besides several unpaid parking tickets. Person A is approached by an officer and asked to sell him some heroin. Person A refuses and explains that he is not the person to talk to, and he wouldn’t know where to obtain any illegal controlled substances. The officer insists, and begins to call and appear at places Person A is with his family. After repeatedly asking for a week, the officer calls up Person A and tells him that he will have Person A sent to jail for unpaid parking tickets and will personally assure that he serves jail time if he doesn’t comply with the officer’s demands. Person A, afraid of jeopardizing his job agrees and obtains the heroin. The officer immediately reports Person A and has him charged for felony drug possession. As evidence the officer presents pictures and recorded conversations of Person A obtaining the heroin from a known drug dealer and transferring it over to the officer.

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.

Entrapment is a complete defense in some criminal cases. A person will be said to have been entrapped if a law enforcement officer engaged in conduct that would cause a normally law abiding citizen to commit a crime. The definition of entrapment may seem fairly straightforward, but in actuality it is a lot more complex in it’s application.

Entrapment will be a successful defense when there is pressure, harassment or fraud applied by the law enforcement officer. Anything less than that will not be considered entrapment. The definition of what constitutes enough pressure or harassment is subjective, and therefore is open to many different interpretations. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney has handled many entrapment defenses and can determine whether a specific case has a strong or weak entrapment defense.

One of the biggest elements that will distinguish a valid entrapment defense from what is not entrapment is the element of predisposition. If a person is predisposed, has the inclination to engage in certain kinds of behavior, there is a weak argument in favor of entrapment. The Supreme Court ruling in Mathew v. United States (485 U.S. 58 (1988)) determined that entrapment will only be successful in cases where there is a lack of predisposition on behalf of the person being charged. If the government can establish that the person trying the entrapment defense was predisposed to commit the unlawful act then he or she will not be able to use the defense successfully. It won’t be entrapment when the person is already willing to commit a crime and the law enforcement officer merely provides the opportunity to do so.

When a person is charged with Prostitution, a commonly used defense is entrapment. An entrapment defense will be successful when it can be proven that law enforcement engaged in behavior that would cause an otherwise law abiding citizen to engage in an unlawful act. If it is shown that a law enforcement officer pressured or persuaded a person to engage in prostitution, there is a strong defense in favor of the person charged and will lead to a dismissal of the case.

The legislation defines prostitution as a lewd act between persons for money or other consideration. California Penal Code § 647 (b) punishes those that solicit, agree to participate, or participate in prostitution. Therefore, if a person is pressured or coerced by a law enforcement officer to engage in prostitution they will have a valid entrapment defense. However, if there is no fraud or pressure and it can be proven that they have a predisposition to engage in prostitution the entrapment defense will not be valid. The prosecutor will demonstrate that a person has the predisposition to commit a crime through the use of any existing criminal record and proof of character. Predisposition to commit an unlawful act will strongly weaken an entrapment defense.

For example, let’s say that Person A has nothing on their criminal record besides a lot of parking tickets on their record and cannot afford to pay them. Additionally, she is not known by friends and family to be of a promiscuous nature. An officer contacts Person A and asks her if she would like for him to make the tickets disappear, and all she has to do is come over to his home and engage in some activities with him. Person A says no. The officer continues to call her asking for the same, and eventually tells her that he will make sure that due to the huge amount of unpaid tickets, he will make sure that she not only owes steep fines, but will serve jail time as well. Person A, terrified at the idea and scared agrees and engages in unlawful conduct that results in a charge of prostitution.

Entrapment is a full defense that is common to certain types of criminal cases. Among these are drug sales cases, prostitution and charges of lewd conduct. Depending on the specific facts of the case, as well as the individual’s background, the defense may be successful and will result in a dismissal.

One of the types of charges where Entrapment is argued often is in drug sales. The typical case will involve an undercover officer who asks to buy drugs from a known dealer. The dealer sells drugs to the officer and is arrested and charged with a violation of the California Health and Safety Code § 11352. §11352 makes it unlawful for any person to be transporting or selling a controlled substance.

The defense will only be successful if the person was coerced or pressured into selling the controlled substance to the officer. It must be more than a suggestion, it must be enough to make reasonable person feel that they cannot refuse but do as the officer asks. If the person is predisposed to selling drugs then the entrapment defense will not work. The prosecutor will demonstrate that a person has the predisposition to commit a crime through the use of any existing criminal record and proof of character.