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What Is Entrapment?


Being charged with a crime does not necessarily mean that you will be found guilty of one, especially if there are extenuating circumstances surrounding your actions. One of the possible defenses that you can assert in order to help cast reasonable doubt in your case is entrapment, which is defined as law enforcement pushing or otherwise manipulating a person into committing a crime when they might otherwise have lacked the intent to do it.

Intent (Or Lack Thereof) Matters

Normally, when someone commits a crime, it is a problem because that person has developed the intent to commit that crime entirely on their own, and that malicious intent is what society is trying to punish at the root of things. If the person never had the intent to commit the crime, they cannot be held entirely responsible for its happening, which is why entrapment is a defense. It shows that the intent was the government’s, rather than the person’s. The state should never ‘create’ criminals.

The most common offenses where entrapment is an issue are prostitution and drug trafficking, though many white collar crime cases will deal with the issue as well. There must be a substantial step toward actually committing this type of crime, and it is often very clear when someone has taken that step and when they have not, at least to law enforcement. An average person can benefit from an experienced attorney’s assistance in determining the specific steps of their alleged crime.

Subjective vs. Objective 

Florida law holds that if law enforcement “induces or encourages” conduct that leads to a “substantial risk” that a crime will be committed, entrapment has occurred. If a defendant establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that they were entrapped, acquittal is the proper remedy. It is important to keep in mind that you only need to prove entrapment with a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a lower standard than the usual criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is referred to as subjective entrapment.

Objective entrapment, by comparison, is when law enforcement’s conduct is outside the bounds of what would count as ordinary ‘decency and fairness’ or is so egregious as to rise to the level of possible due process violations. Everyone in the U.S. has rights, even if they have been charged with a crime, and if a defendant’s constitutional rights are put in question by law enforcement’s conduct (for example, blackmailing someone into committing a crime), an acquittal is most often the remedy.

Contact A West Palm Beach Entrapment Attorney

If you lack the intent to commit a crime, you may be able to show that you were entrapped into doing so. The West Palm Beach entrapment attorneys at the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. understand how high the stakes are in these cases, and stand ready and willing to try and help you. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.

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