The Entrapment Defense in Utah
Many clients come to our office with concerns that they may have been entrapped by police officers or agents into committing a crime. Entrapment is a complete defense to a crime. This means you should be acquitted and your charges dismissed in circumstances which amount to entrapment by police officers. However, while entrapment is a complete defense, proving entrapment can be a difficult matter and requires the knowledge and experience of a skilled Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer to aggressively pursue your defense.There seems to be many misconceptions in the public regarding the entrapment defense. This article was written to provide general information on entrapment in Utah.
The Elements of Entrapment in Utah
In Utah, “entrapment occurs when a peace officer or a person directed by or acting in cooperation with the officer induces the commission of an offense in order to obtain evidence of the commission for prosecution by methods creating a substantial risk that the offense would be committed by one not otherwise ready to commit it.” Utah Code Ann. 76-2-303.The first main element to the entrapment question is “inducement.” Under what circumstances does a police officer “induce” a person into committing a crime? If a police officer merely provides a person an opportunity to commit a crime that is generally not considered entrapment. Inducement must be something more than merely providing an opportunity.The second main element of the entrapment defense is the person must not have been “otherwise ready to commit” the offense. This takes into account the predisposition of the defendant. The question here is, was the person ready to commit the crime absent any entrapment.
Police Conduct that is Entrapment
Entrapment may occur when a police officer motivates a person to commit a crime by means of unlawful pressure such as threats, badgering, coaxing, cajoling, and other means. For instance, if a police officer threatens an individual with bodily harm or physical violence, obviously that would likely amount to entrapment or coercion. Another example is if a police officer put so much pressure on you by continually asking over and over again and essentially drove you to commit the crime.In some cases, if a law enforcement agent creates an unusual motive for you to commit a crime; you may have been subjected to entrapment. Example, if you were persuaded to commit the crime because of friendship, sympathy, or other attachments by the officer (not a typical motive such as financial gain) you may have an entrapment defense.It may also be entrapment in extreme cases where the officers provided an unusually attractive motive for you to commit the crime. An example would be if an undercover agent told you you would receive an exorbitant amount of money for a crime or that it was not illegal.
Police Conduct that is NOT Entrapment
It is not entrapment merely because police officers afforded you the opportunity to commit the crime. It is common for undercover agents to pose as drug dealers, johns, and underage teens online. They may provide you with an opportunity to commit a crime but that alone does not mean you were entrapped.An undercover officer does not entrap a person merely by originating or generating a plan for the defendant. Just because you didn’t come up with the plan to commit the crime, doesn’t necessarily mean you were entrapped into committing it.Many individuals falsely believe that an undercover agent has to tell you that they are a police officer if you ask them. This is not the rule. Officers can gain a defendant’s confidence to make the defendant believe they are not being set up.
Entrapped Into Committing a Crime? We can Help.
If you or someone you know has been entrapped into committing a crime they were not already ready to commit, we can help. We have helped numerous individuals pursue an aggressive defense based on entrapment. To speak with a Utah Entrapment Defense Lawyer today, call us anytime at 801.618.1334.