Understanding Entrapment in Pennsylvania- Don’t Let Amateur “Experts” Steer You Wrong
By: Dave Mueller, Criminal Defense Attorney
There are few topics in criminal law that result in more dangerous amateur advice and lead people into trouble faster than the legal concept of entrapment. Particularly in this day in age, where the internet can instantly connect us to a wide range of amateur non-attorneys with opinions to spare, most people have probably heard at least one definition of “entrapment” that is just plain wrong. Some popular erroneous examples include:
“If you ask an undercover officer if they’re police and they lie to you, that’s entrapment.” (FALSE)*
“If an informant calls and asks to buy drugs, that’s automatically entrapment.” (FALSE)*
“If the police set a speed trap in an area where the speed limit changes suddenly, that’s entrapment.” (FALSE)*
“If the police put up an attractive target for thieves (i.e.- a “bait car”) and wait for someone to steal it, that’s entrapment.” (FALSE)*
*Examples are not legal advice. Only an attorney knowing the facts of your case can determine whether any given defense applies.
Put briefly, entrapment as a defense in Pennsylvania occurs only when the police or their agents use tactics that persuade or induce a person who was not ready to commit a crime into committing a crime, and that person commits a crime in response to that inducement. If that sounds complicated, that’s because it is. Entrapment is an extremely narrow exception that applies in very limited cases. Only an experienced attorney, after careful review of the specific facts of your case, can determine whether entrapment is a valid defense.
Walking into a courtroom and raising the defense of entrapment requires extensive research by a skilled attorney, and attempting to raise it on your own can be both disastrous and embarrassing. Operating with a mistaken belief that “entrapment” will act as a legal defense to your actions in the future can be equally disastrous. But, entrapment is a real defense, and the failure to raise it properly could also be costly. In fact, even in some of the examples listed above, an attorney reviewing your case might find facts particular to that case which could bring the entrapment defense into play. Only an experienced attorney can thoroughly review the facts and evidence in your case and advise you on whether entrapment is a valid defense.
Don’t Take Amateur Advice- If You Think Entrapment May Be a Defense in Your Case Call Us Today.
Entrapment is a complicated, narrow defense, but it does happen. That’s why it exists under the law. Don’t trust non-attorney “experts” to tell you what the law is. Make an appointment to talk with an experienced criminal attorney today.