Entrapment is when law enforcement officials induce or persuade an individual to commit a crime he or she would not have committed otherwise. If two elements are present, it can act as a potential defense.
First, there must be an inducement, where law enforcement officers encourage or persuade someone to commit a crime. Second, the individual involved must not have had any predisposition or intent to commit the crime before the inducement occurred. For drug crimes, there are multiple ways law enforcement may practice entrapment.
Undercover officers may repeatedly encourage an individual to buy or sell drugs even though the person has no prior history of drug dealing. They may use threats or intimidation. The targeted individual, feeling afraid or pressured, eventually agrees to perform drug-related activities, leading to an arrest.
2. Providing incentives
Law enforcement officers may also offer substantial financial incentives or promises to an individual to convince him or her to transport or distribute drugs. The person, lured by the offer, becomes involved in drug trafficking, unaware that he or she is part of a police operation.
3. False identification
While undercover officers usually operate under made-up identities, it is entrapment for them to falsely identify themselves as friends or associates to coerce someone into participating in drug-related activities. The individual, trusting the false identity, becomes involved in drug transactions under the belief that he or she is assisting a friend rather than engaging in illegal activities.
The determination of entrapment depends on specific circumstances and legal interpretations. A successful entrapment defense typically requires demonstrating that the defendant had no intent or predisposition to commit the crime and that law enforcement officials induced the illegal behavior. In Temecula Valley High School, an undercover officer pretended to befriend special needs children and asked them for “help” procuring drugs, leading to a massive sting that included their arrest. This is a case of entrapment. Exercising caution online and questioning suspicious activities can help individuals avoid entrapment. Documenting any threats, persuasion or coercion via social media, messaging, etc. to try and get them to participate in drug-related activities can help with defense.