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When can you use entrapment as a defense?

On Behalf of | May 18, 2024 | Criminal Defense

People often think that “entrapment” is a criminal offense committed by law enforcement officers. It’s actually a potential defense. However, it’s not applicable as often as people think it is. 

Police go undercover or send civilians to get close to those allegedly planning or engaging in criminal activity. That’s not entrapment – if it’s done as should be.

What does Georgia law say?

Under Georgia law, “Entrapment exists where the idea and intention of the commission of the crime originated with a government officer or employee…and he, by undue persuasion, incitement, or deceitful means, induced the accused to commit the act which the accused would not have committed except for the conduct of such officer.” 

The fact that an officer or confidential informant doesn’t disclose their identity doesn’t make what they’re doing entrapment. In fact, they can deny that they’re law enforcement agents or working for them if asked. 

It’s not uncommon for someone arrested for a crime to agree to work for the police to help them arrest others involved in the same criminal enterprise in exchange for reducing or dropping the charges against them. They’re considered a “government agent” under the law if they’re operating under law enforcement direction.

Numerous offenses can involve entrapment

Entrapment doesn’t have to involve a vast criminal enterprise. It can be as simple as an overzealous undercover officer badgering someone to sell them drugs when that person never approached them or asked if they wanted to buy drugs. It could involve an officer going up to someone and offering them money in exchange for sex rather than waiting to be solicited. It can even occur online. The idea is whether someone was induced to do something criminal that they otherwise wouldn’t have done.

It’s easy to feel like you were entrapped. However, if you use that as a defense, you should be able to show that you never would have gone through with the alleged offense if the undercover officer or informant hadn’t somehow “induced” you to. With experienced legal guidance, you can better determine whether you were entrapped or other options for dealing with the charge.