ENLawyer Kurt Nachtman had an interesting case recently involving some “law school” defenses that are rarely seen in real life. While that case highlighted involuntary intoxication, we wanted to expand on that story and provide some other rarely-seen defenses. Some time back we blogged about Duress. This week we’ll touch on Entrapment.
Baltimore Criminal Defense: Entrapment
When people claim duress as a defense, they are asserting that they committed the crime for which they are accused under the force, or by the threat of another. This defense can only be used, in most cases, if the accused was threatened in a way that transcended the offense they committed. The threats made against the accused must also have been immediate and physically harmful or deadly in nature. Entrapment is actually a very developed defense that has many permutations through the use of government informants and undercover operatives. Operatives working on behalf of the government must be able to show that the Defendant was “predisposed” to commit the crime without their encouragement. Several sad cases highlight Entrapment and how government agents can coerce people to otherwise commit crimes they are not otherwise predisposed to do.
Baltimore Criminal Defense: The story
Point Break (1991): Imagine, if you will, that our criminal mastermind and extreme surfer Bodhi (played by Patrick Swayze) wasn’t actually such a mastermind. Imagine instead a world where Johnny Utah was the mastermind but still worked for the FBI. He had a plan where he would infiltrate a world of extreme surfers and convince them to commit the bank robberies in exchange for traveling the world to surf the sunny lands of _____ (insert exotic location here).
Sound far fetched? Well, not so fast my friend. Here is an example of an FBI informant infiltrating the ranks of some “occupiers” in Cleveland Ohio (the hotbed of terrorist activity that it is) and convincing them to try and blow up a bridge on the Ohio Turnpike. The article, published in Rolling Stone, also goes onto highlight other cases of Entrapment but it also talks about the big problem with use of informants, they’re criminals too!
So what happens with Entrapment?
Entrapment is an affirmative defense. You’re essentially saying, “yeah I did it, but the government convinced me to do it.” It’s not a great bargaining position. Under Maryland law, you must show:
- The defendant was not predisposed to commit the crime prior to the time law enforcement or someone acting on behalf of law enforcement made contact with him/her; and
- The defendant was induced or persuaded to commit the crime
Similar to Duress, Entrapment is a situation where the defense is presented at trial either to a judge or a jury for decision.
ENLawyers: Bottom Line
This doesn’t happen all the time but it does happen. It always pays to have a good lawyer who not only knows your rights but aggressively pursues evidence to help exonerate you. If you find yourself charged with a crime (with an interesting extreme defense or otherwise), call ENLawyers for help.