Entrapment: Not Always So Clear
Entrapment is a tricky and often overlooked topic. The harsh reality is that entrapment occurs more often than people are aware. Generally, a person trusts that law enforcement will not lead them astray. As a representative of the law, an officer has the most influence over those who may be previously inclined to commit a crime. Unfortunately, some take this influence as an opportunity to take advantage of the predisposed, as they are the easiest targets. If there is evidence of a plan to commit a crime, it becomes all too tempting for a law enforcement officer to cross the line into entrapment.
Florida defines entrapment as a person acting as a law enforcement agent, officer, appearing to act under the color of the law, facilitates to deceive, induce, or encourage a person to so as to “entrap” a person into revealing evidence or even committing a crime that he or she may not have committed had the officer not acted as they had. In Florida, any person that clearly has been shown to be entrapped by a preponderance of the evidence will be exonerated. Florida’s laws general mirror the laws of most states.
In Florida, there are two distinct types of entrapment defenses- subjective and objective. Objective entrapment arises where the conduct by law enforcement is clearly a violation of a person’s due process rights that there is no question entrapment occurred. Where an officer is found to have clearly violated a person’s rights through the lens of the objective test, the charges against the accused are dropped. From a public policy perspective, the goal is to deter law enforcement from this type of conduct even on the most predisposed of persons.
Subjective entrapment is a little trickier to identify. Because subjective entrapment it is not always obvious, the focus is on the perpetrator’s predisposition to commit the crime and the method of inducement by the officer. In short, did the officer merely encourage an act to be that would have happened anyway or did the officer actually induce the defendant so that there was a substantial risk that a crime would occur? These are all questions that need to be answered before making a factual determination.
Social media has proven to be one of the easiest ways to entrap a person. Most recently, civil rights activists have criticized some efforts to combat terrorism in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub and Parkland School shootings through social media and informants. They assert that the efforts borderline on entrapment and are clear violations of the defendant’s civil rights. The majority, however, would argue that entrapment by a police officer may indeed be the lesser of two evils: a civil rights violation or the loss of potentially multiple lives.
If you feel you may have been a victim of entrapment, you may be in need of legal help. Contact Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. in Florida and let an experienced attorney guide you through the legal process in order to achieve the best result for you.