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What is Criminal Entrapment in New York State Law?

Law enforcement agencies do not only sit and wait for phone calls about criminal activities, sometimes they actively go out and try to find them. And in other situations, they actually help them happen.

Definition of Entrapment

Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer or similar government official encourages someone to commit a criminal violation. They may use threats, coercion, fraudulent acts, or even flattery and flirtatious behavior to promote a criminal activity.

In some cases, the defendant’s own inclination to commit the crime is rendered invalid if entrapment is used; that is to say, if a police officer encourages you to steal something that you were planning on stealing anyway, entrapment has occurred all the same.

  • For example: A luxury Mercedes-Benz bicycle is left on the sidewalk outside of your retail store by police officers. An undercover agent comes into your store to talk about the bicycle and tells you that it is not chained up and that you should steal it. Throughout the day, the same officer continues to tell you to steal the unsecured luxury bicycle. When you close up shop that night, you grab the bicycle and are immediately arrested by the uncover police officer. Due to the officer’s insistence that you steal the bike that the police department place there themselves, entrapment has likely occurred.

A Not-So-Golden Opportunity

Entrapping someone is not the same as giving them the opportunity to commit a crime. When you go to court to defend yourself against criminal charges, you must be certain that your actions were a result of entrapment and not simply suggestion.

The law and the court believes that a reasonable person should be able to resist committing a crime under normal circumstances.

  • For example: The police intentionally leave a $10,000 luxury bicycle outside your storefront with no security, locks, or chains. An undercover officer enters your store, states that someone will probably steal that bicycle since it is not secured, and then leaves. When you take the bicycle that night, you are arrested for theft. Entrapment has not occurred because you were not encouraged to break the law, even though you were clearly tempted.

Is the Best Defense a Good Offense?

Using entrapment to defend yourself in court is a tricky proposition by all standards. Instead of claiming that you never did the crime for which you were charged, you are claiming that you did do the crime but not without ample prodding from the police. Known as an affirmative defense, citing entrapment must be done skillfully because if your defense fails, you have effectively testified against yourself and admitted to the crime.

If you have been arrested in New York State and believe that entrapment was at play, let Rochester Criminal Defense Attorney Robert King know what happened during a free initial case evaluation. Using his years of legal experience and unrivaled knowledge of the law, he can determine if entrapment is the right defensive strategy or if you have other legal options available. Dial (585) 286-5124 to get started today.