Legal Defenses: The Entrapment Defense in Florida
- On behalf of Mike G Law posted in Criminal Defense on Wednesday, July 3, 2019
What happens if someone you believe to be a prostitute induces you to pay for sexual acts, then once you hand over the bills, she pulls out her police badge? After all, you weren’t seeking out a prostitute in the first place, but you felt enticed because of how she treated you. Is it fair that you should be prosecuted or fined for solicitation?
Entrapment can take many forms. The basis of all of these forms is a police offer (or someone working on behalf of law enforcement) who has created a bit of a trap that makes someone commit a crime that they would not have committed if the trap weren’t in place. Thus, our unlucky John in the first paragraph.
There are two types of entrapment defenses recognized by Florida law. In this article, we’ll cover both subjective entrapment and object entrapment and share a couple of situations that may be considered entrapment. Ultimately, if you feel that you’ve been entrapped into committing a crime by law enforcement officials, it’s critical that you speak to a skilled Tampa defense attorney immediately in order to start building your case.
Subjective entrapment is the type of entrapment most people think about when they hear the term. Florida Statute 777.201 states:
A law enforcement officer, a person engaged in cooperation with a law enforcement officer, or a person acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer perpetrates an entrapment if, for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of a crime, he or she induces or encourages and, as a direct result, causes another person to engage in conduct constituting such crime by employing methods of persuasion or inducement which create a substantial risk that such crime will be committed by a person other than one who is ready to commit it.
Whether it’s enticing a rehabilitated addict to make a drug deal or encouraging an activist to take more drastic violent actions, entrapment makes people act in a way that they typically would not have if they had not been encouraged to do so.
Too often, officers and police departments are caught up in their own performance—in meeting their stats, collecting fines, and putting people behind bars. This attitude can lead to unconscionable actions on the part of law enforcement. Because they can develop tunnel vision in pursuit of their goal, they may fail to see how their actions are encouraging criminal actions and entrapping innocent individuals. “Sting operations” to take drugs off the streets may lead to officers enticing individuals to purchase or sell drugs, for example.
To prove entrapment, a defense attorney must show that their client was induced into the criminal act by the actions of a law enforcement officer or someone working on their behalf and that their client was not of the mind to break the law. They will need to illustrate how the defendant was encouraged to participate in the illegal action by law enforcement and how they would not have engaged in the criminal act had it not been because of that encouragement. The methods of encouragement must also be shown to have furthered the risk of the criminal act occurring.
If you feel that you were the victim of entrapment, contact Mike G Law now. As a former prosecutor, I understand the ins and outs of entrapment and know what a judge needs to see to find in your favor.
Objective entrapment is part of state case law and deals with law enforcement actions on a larger scale. This occurs when a case features “egregious” conduct by law enforcement that encourages or otherwise forces an individual to commit a crime. A surveillance operation which comes up empty-handed, for example, may lead officers who have invested so much time into nabbing someone they think is a criminal into creating the circumstances for that individual to become a criminal. This was the case in State v. Finno (Fla. 4th DCA 1994).
In that case, officials were told that an individual was making plans to kill a sheriff. After a surveillance operation that lasted several months, they found no evidence of this claim. Instead of just letting it go and noting that they were given bad information, the officers involved in the case showed the defendant how to run a loan shark operation. Once the defendant finally committed a crime—after being shown how to by the officers—he was arrested. Thankfully, the court noted the horrible way the law enforcement officers behaved, and the case was thrown out because of entrapment. The court found the law enforcement officials had completely orchestrated the crime and that it violated the due process of the accused.
This type of entrapment defense is not as common as subjective entrapment, but still important to note.
When the Entrapment Defense Doesn’t Work
If the crime in question would have occurred without the encouragement of the disguised law enforcement officer—for example, if an individual was actively seeking a prostitute and just happened upon an undercover officer—then entrapment will be hard to prove. However, the burden will be on the prosecution to illustrate that said individual was already prepared to commit a crime and that they would’ve committed a crime regardless of the presence or encouragement of the undercover officer. Essentially, the prosecution will need to show that the defendant was predisposed to break the law and that the actions of the law enforcement officer did not in any way force them to break the law.
Think You Were the Victim of Entrapment?
The best way to determine whether an entrapment defense is appropriate for your case is to call Mike G Law. Once you provide me with the details of your situation, I can provide you with the legal advice you need to make an informed choice. Every case is different, but with over 25 years of experience under my belt and in-depth knowledge of how the legal system works, I can help determine your best course of action and work with you. Don’t let your future get trampled by the legal system—call Mike G Law today!