Monday, May 4, 2015

Word for the Month of May 2015: Entrapment

Crime is on the riseAre you so situated in business that you notice trends?  Rally on commodities, stocks, bonds, T-bills - they all have trends.  Like economic markets, there are trends in and law and the legal research business, too.  For instance, from November to December there is a lull in general civil cases (but a jump in family law cases).  Around August, there seems to be a glut of criminal cases.  Around February, the civil litigation market kicks into gear and every 6 months, or so, we get a number of 288 and Solicitation cases.

What's a 288 case? If you don't know, you really don't want to know.  As it happens, the police around where I live conduct sweeps of areas frequented by people who tend to prey on children.  Personally, I don't know where those places are but apparently, there are a lot of them.  Every 6 months, like clockwork, we'll get a bunch of people (men and women) who come seeking information on ENTRAPMENT.  

According to Black's Law Dictionary, ENTRAPMENT exists where a law-enforcement officer's or government agent's inducement of a person to commit a crime, by means of fraud or undue persuasion, in an attempt to cause a criminal prosecution against that person.  In order to establish ENTRAPMENT, the defendant must show that he or she would not have committed the crime but for the fraud or undue persuasion.

How does this play out in real life?  Say, a cop is on a street corner posing as a drug dealer.  Random guy comes to cop and asks to buy a dime.  Money changes hands; there is no ENTRAPMENT because guy came to cop.  If cop poses as a drug dealer and offers to sell drugs to a random passerby and passerby refuses but cop then tries to convince passerby and offers a discount and then the person agrees, that is ENTRAPMENT.  Providing the opportunity is not enough for it to be entrapment, the police have to actively persuade, convince, or pressure the person to commit a crime.

Another one? Guy is trolling the internet.  He sees a picture of a 12 year-old (i.e. a minor) with the message: for a good time call 555-123-4567.  Guy calls and speaks with "Carey" (who turns out to be an undercover cop).  Guy suggests that they meet up for some hanky panky.  "Carey" says she lives at 123 Edgewood Avenue.  Guy goes there and is subsequently arrested for, among other things, Solicitation of a minor.  Because cops catch guy doing something he was really looking to do (fiddle with a minor), guy is looking at some serious penalties and a lifetime of registration as a sex offender.  Hence guy's desire to defend against ENTRAPMENT. See how it works?

As it turns out, your local county law library has resources you need to help you put up a reasonable defense against anything you might be facing.  We can't give you legal advice, but I can guarantee you that our fees are reasonable (free) and our resources are second to none.  So, when next you find yourself in a bind, why not head over to your local county law library so that we can help set you on your path to a less stressful statement of mind.