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The Entrapment Defense: How Does it Work? 

When navigating the complexities of criminal charges, understanding your legal defenses can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. 

One critical defense in Arizona is entrapment, a concept that has been used in criminal defense cases since 1997. 

This article will explore what entrapment entails, how to apply it to your situation, and the specific criteria under Arizona law that must be met.

Understanding Entrapment

Entrapment happens when law enforcement persuades you to commit a crime you wouldn’t have otherwise engaged in.

Initially a common law defense, entrapment has become a defined affirmative defense in Arizona, specifically outlined in A.R.S. § 13-206

To employ this defense effectively, you must admit to the major components of the crime you’re accused of. 

This doesn’t mean you must confess to the crime outright; rather, it requires demonstrating that any admissions you made regarding the crime’s elements were not disputed. 

The Arizona Supreme Court has stated that you don’t need to testify to claim this defense, but simply admitting facts without contesting them isn’t enough. You might, instead, agree formally to these admissions or have them read into court records.

Requirements for Claiming Entrapment

Claiming entrapment requires you to demonstrate convincingly that the concept and persuasion to commit the offense originated with law enforcement officials, not with you. This means showing that you were not predisposed to commit the crime before the police or their agents influenced you. 

To establish entrapment, you must prove that the law enforcement officers or their representatives initiated the idea of the crime and pushed you to commit it while also proving that you were not initially willing or inclined to undertake the criminal activity on your own.

A skilled criminal defense attorney, such as an attorney from Litwak Law Group, can walk you through how this defense works as applied to the specifics of your circumstance. 

Understanding Entrapment Through a Real-World Scenario

Let’s consider a hypothetical example of entrapment that could occur under Arizona law:

Imagine you frequent a local bar and have never shown interest in illegal drugs. One day, a new acquaintance at the bar, who is actually an undercover police officer, starts talking to you about the benefits of a certain illegal drug. You expressed no interest initially. However, over several weeks, this acquaintance continually brings up the topic, praising the effects of the drug and insisting you should try it. You decline multiple times, but the acquaintance, persisting, eventually offers to give you the drug for free, claiming it will be a life-changing experience.

Feeling pressured and curious after the prolonged insistence, you finally accept the drug. As soon as you take it into your possession, other police officers appear and arrest you for possession of illegal drugs.

In this scenario, you might claim entrapment as a defense for the following reasons:

  • Inducement by Law Enforcement: The undercover officer initiated the idea of you using and possessing the drug. You did not seek out the drug, nor did you express any interest in obtaining it before the officer’s repeated attempts to persuade you.
  • Lack of Predisposition: Before the interactions with the undercover officer, you had no history or interest in drug use, indicating that you were not predisposed to commit the crime of drug possession.
  • Overbearing Conduct: The officer’s behavior could be considered overbearing or coercive, as they repeatedly urged you to accept the drug despite your initial refusals.

In this example, if you can provide clear and convincing evidence of these factors, you may successfully argue that you were entrapped into committing a crime you otherwise would not have committed. 

However, if it were shown that you had a history of drug use or had been seeking to buy drugs, the entrapment defense might not apply because it could be argued that you were predisposed to commit the offense.

Practical Applications and Legal Strategy

Entrapment focuses on the origin of the intent behind committing the crime and the police officer’s actions. Arizona statutes and case law provide guidance on applying the entrapment defense.

Practically, using the entrapment defense means carefully scrutinizing your interactions with law enforcement agents. It’s about demonstrating that the push to commit the crime came from them, not you. Documenting interactions with law enforcement and understanding your rights are crucial in defending your freedom. 

This can be complex, requiring a thorough understanding of both your rights and the specifics of law enforcement conduct. Since this defense is complex, the role of an experienced defense attorney can not be understated. In addition to documenting your interactions with law enforcement, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

What can an entrapment defense offer?

The entrapment defense offers a viable strategy if you are accused of a crime following law enforcement inducement. Understanding how this defense works, particularly within the context of Arizona law, is crucial since the requirements of this defense can vary from state to state. 

Contact Litwak Law Group today. Our experienced attorneys can help you evaluate options and determine if an entrapment defense could apply to your case. We will evaluate the details of your situation and effectively guide you through the legal process. 

Remember, each case is unique, and the entrapment defense has specific requirements. However, other legal defenses may also be available, and Litwak Law Group will help guide you through the effectiveness of each defense as applied to your specific circumstances to best protect your freedom and your rights.