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What is entrapment and why does it matter?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2023 | Criminal Defense

When a police officer commits an arrest, he or she cannot use entrapment to do so. If it is shown that this has occurred, then that entrapment can be used as a defense. Even if the suspect is technically guilty of the crime they are accused of committing, they may be able to show that they shouldn’t be convicted in court.

Essentially, entrapment is defined as a police officer doing something to implant a criminal idea in someone else’s mind and then arresting that person when they go through with it. The police officer would, therefore, have created the crime in order to make the arrest. This is a violation of someone’s rights because a police officer is only supposed to arrest people for independently breaking laws that already exist. If the officer influenced them to do it, then the accused can simply claim that the illegal actions were the officer’s fault, not their own.

Is this different than undercover work?

People sometimes get confused about the difference between undercover policing and entrapment. An undercover officer can keep their identity concealed, and they can wait until they witness a crime to make an arrest. This is not entrapment.

An example of this is when someone sells drugs to an undercover officer. If they were going to sell drugs to someone and it just happened to be a police officer, they can be arrested. But if a police officer convinces someone who wasn’t a drug dealer to sell illegal substances to them, and then arrests them for doing so, that would be entrapment. The sale never would have taken place without the police officer’s influence.

Those who have been accused of a crime certainly need to understand all of their legal rights. When those have been violated, they need to know what steps to take.