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The Entrapment Defense in Wisconsin

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, your rightsMany legal and police-based TV shows raise the issue of an “entrapment” defense at some point during their run, but the defense is often not as simple as those shows imply. The entrapment defense is an argument available to criminal defendants that the police tricked them into committing a crime that they would not have otherwise committed. The defense arises most often in cases where the defendant was caught by an undercover officer, such as in prostitution stings or undercover drug buys. However, proving entrapment as a defense requires more than just showing that the officer deceived the defendant in some way.

Proving Entrapment

The important thing to understand about entrapment is that it is a high bar to meet. Mere deception on the part of the police is not enough, and neither is simply providing the defendant with the opportunity to commit a crime that they would have otherwise committed. Instead, the defendant has to show that the police somehow induced them to commit a crime they would not have engaged in without police interference. Undercover drug sales make a good example for showing the distinction between providing an opportunity and inducing the crime.

For the first example, suppose the undercover officer is standing on a corner not talking to anyone. If someone approaches them and asks if they have drugs for sale, that would not be entrapment. The same is likely true if the officer called out offering drugs for sale, and then the person approached. That would merely be providing the opportunity for someone who was predisposed to commit the crime. If the officer approached the person and continually harassed them to buy drugs, following them down the street, and asking over and over despite repeated refusals until the person eventually broke down and bought the drugs, then that would be a much more likely candidate for the entrapment defense.

The Purpose of Entrapment

The reason for this high standard is because of the purpose of the entrapment defense. The defense is a longstanding legal doctrine created by judges that exists to impose limits on the power of the police. The idea behind the defense is that police exist to prevent crime, and that their resources should be used to catch people who would otherwise be committing crimes, rather than inducing otherwise law-abiding people to break the law. However, the courts also recognize the inherent value of undercover operations, so the idea behind the doctrine is to prevent the police from tricking citizens into becoming criminals, while still allowing them to operate undercover in some situations.

Entrapment is just one of the many defenses available to people who have been accused of a crime. If you are facing criminal charges and want to know more about your rights, contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney today.

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