What Constitutes Entrapment in Criminal Law?

While you may have heard of the term “entrapment” before, you may not understand what it means in the legal sense. Police entrapment is a severe issue that can lead to long-lasting legal consequences for both police officers and the individuals they target. That said, if you’re facing criminal charges for a crime you committed as a result of being coerced by a law enforcement agent, it’s in your best interest to contact a determined Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney who can help you provide the court with a preponderance of the evidence that proves entrapment has occurred.

What does entrapment mean in a criminal case?

Undercover police officers and government agents often use entrapment tactics to catch criminals. However, these tactics can sometimes cross the line into illegal conduct, violating an individual’s rights. Law enforcement officers must stay within the bounds of the law when conducting investigations. If they fail to do so, meaning they use deceit to induce someone to commit a crime, criminal defendants may be able to establish entrapment.

Entrapment is an affirmative legal defense that can be used during a criminal case because the defendant only committed a crime due to harassment or coercion by a government official. An affirmative defense means the criminal defendant is burdened with establishing that entrapment has occurred. Essentially, entrapment occurs when a government official, such as a police officer, uses threats, fraud, or harassment to induce someone to commit a crime. Without such coercion, the offense would have never been achieved. To use entrapment as a legal defense, you must be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the criminal defendant would not have committed the crime were it not for the police officers’ coercion through illegitimate means. Ultimately, you must prove you were not already willing or predisposed to commit the crime.

What’s the difference between entrapment and opportunity?

It’s crucial to understand the difference between entrapment and opportunity. If the criminal defendant was not coerced into the commission of a crime but instead had the opportunity to commit it, they cannot claim entrapment as a defense. Opportunity is a legal term that denotes a situation wherein the criminal defendant was offered the chance to engage in a criminal act but was not induced or coerced by law enforcement. Thus, if an individual had already planned to commit the crime before being presented with an opportunity by law enforcement, they cannot use entrapment as a valid legal defense.

If you believe that you’re the victim of police entrapment, it’s imperative to take action and speak with an experienced Bergen County criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of Carl Spector, we are prepared to help you fight against unfair treatment and defend your rights.