The Sanders Firm, P.C.: Entrapment Defense

Entrapment is one of the most misunderstood of all defenses. That is because there is a subtle difference between actual entrapment and what may be considered the appearance of entrapment.

What is Entrapment?

In New York State, the New York State Penal Law defines entrapment as a defense in criminal law in the following manner:

“In any prosecution for an offense, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was induced or encouraged to do so by a public servant, or by a person acting in cooperation with a public servant, seeking to obtain evidence against him for purpose of criminal prosecution, and when the methods used to obtain such evidence were such as to create a substantial risk that the offense would be committed by a person not otherwise disposed to commit it. Inducement or encouragement to commit an offense means active inducement or encouragement. Conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit an offense does not constitute entrapment.”

In order for entrapment to be a viable defense in a criminal case, the inducement or encouragement must be “active.” What does that mean? The idea is clarified by the final sentence of the article, which notes that when a law enforcement officer or someone working with law enforcement gives someone the mere “opportunity” to commit a crime that does not constitute entrapment.

An Example

An example of what does and does not constitute entrapment may be shown in this manner. If a car is left open on the street with the keys in the ignition and the motor running and someone comes along steals it that would not be considered entrapment. That is because although the opportunity to steal the car was presented to those passing by it, there was no encouragement to do so.

However, if everything remains the same as above and someone associated with law enforcement stands by the car and starts encouraging someone to steal it, telling them they know where they can get rid of it fast and get top dollar, and giving them the address of the chop shop, then that would be entrapment.

In the first example, the person is left on his or her own to make their decision, and in the second, the decision to steal the car is pointed out, encouraged, and enabled by law enforcement.

Legal Representation

If you have been charged with a crime, contact The Sanders Firm, P.C. in New York City. We will work with you, reviewing the charges and the evidence and will help determine if a defense of entrapment is appropriate. We will represent you each step of the way. If you are facing criminal charges, The Sanders Firm, P.C. is your voice for justice.