The Real Truth About Entrapment

If you’ve watched any crime drama series on TV, you’ve heard all about entrapment – but what is it, really, and could it be a valid defense in your case? Here’s the real truth about entrapment, despite what you’ve seen on-screen.

The Real Truth About Entrapment

Entrapment is known as an affirmative defense. In an affirmative defense, your lawyer tells the court, “Yes, my client is guilty of committing this crime – but you can’t really hold him liable. The police convinced him to commit this crime, which he wouldn’t have ordinarily committed.”

The key is that the police have to induce (convince and get you to) you to commit a crime that you wouldn’t ordinarily commit in order for an entrapment defense to be successful. 

Government agents, such as police, cannot originate a criminal design, implant the inclination to commit the crime, and induce you to commit the crime so that the government can prosecute you. In plain English, that means the cops can’t come up with the plan, get you to agree to it and commit it, and then prosecute you for doing so. 

However, the police can engage in a sting operation to catch you committing a crime that you probably would have committed anyway. (One example of this is a prostitution sting, where a police officer dresses as a prostitute and waits for you to pay them for a sexual act.)

Related: Can you be deported for committing a crime?

Entrapment Examples

Check out these examples of entrapment:

  • An undercover police officer outside the student bookstore promising to pay for your school books if you buy marijuana from them
  • A police officer threatening to expose your extramarital affair if you don’t buy drugs from them
  • A police officer claiming he will shoot you if you refuse to commit a crime

Entrapment is a lot less common than many people think it is – but if it’s a factor in your case, your Chicago criminal defense lawyer will know, and he’ll be able to use it to show the court that you can’t be held criminally liable for committing the crime.

Related: What happens during a free consultation with a lawyer?

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