The Defense of Entrapment
In New Jersey, the affirmative defense of entrapment is a legal remedy that a defendant may be able to assert when they have been charged criminally. Although the defense of entrapment is not raised often, the remedy is essential to rectify and deter wrongdoing on the part of law enforcement officers and their agents. In determining whether to assert entrapment as a defense, it is important to understand the meaning of entrapment and consider additional, relevant factors.
What is Entrapment?
Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer or someone acting on their behalf induces or encourages another person to commit a crime, using methods prohibited under the law, which directly cause the person to commit the crime. Prohibited methods include:
- Law enforcement or their agents purposefully making untrue statements that are intended to cause another to believe that a specific act is not a crime; and
- Using methods of persuasion that will create a substantial risk of the individual committing the crime. Under this scenario, the persuasion must be significant as slight persuasions are not enough to meet the standard set forth in the New Jersey statute.
In cases of entrapment, the defendant carries the burden of proof. Therefore, it is the defendant’s responsibility to show it is more likely than not that the crime would not have been committed had the officer not acted in violation of the law. Despite circumstances in which the officer or an agent of the officer acts in an unlawful manner, the state will have the opportunity to demonstrate that the actions did not directly cause the defendant to engage in criminal conduct.
The criminal history of a defendant is an important consideration in determining whether to assert an entrapment defense. If a defendant has a prior criminal history or a reputation for criminal conduct it may be difficult to prove entrapment. This is because the state will assert that the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime, which creates an additional hurdle when asserting that the illegal actions on or on behalf of law enforcement caused the defendant to commit a criminal offense.
A jury is left with the ultimate responsibility of determining whether entrapment was present and whether the entrapment was the direct cause of the criminal act. If the jury determines that entrapment occurred and was the direct cause of the criminal act, the jury must find the defendant not guilty. However, entrapment is not available in all circumstances. When a crime involves causing or threatening bodily injury and the charges are based on the defendant’s conduct the defense of entrapment may not be raised.
Let Us Defend Your Rights
Entrapment is a unique defense that is difficult to prove. If you have committed a crime and were under the impression that it was not a crime or were persuaded to commit the crime by untrue statements or unlawful actions by law enforcement or their agents, it is important that you contact Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law. With over 25 years of experience, attorney Murphy will meet with you to evaluate the likelihood of success. Contact us today in Bergen County for an initial case review.