You’ve probably heard defendants argue that the police entrapped them into committing a crime in certain TV shows. Most people think this merely means showing that the police lured you into doing something illegal, but entrapment actually has a highly nuanced definition in the state of Illinois, and establishing entrapment as a defense is not nearly as simple as claiming the police tricked you into doing something that got you arrested.
Entrapment Under Illinois Law
Under 720 ILCS 5/7-12, entrapment is defined as conduct that is “incited or induced by a public officer or employee, or agent of either, for the purpose of obtaining evidence for the prosecution of that person.” The statute goes on to state a predisposition for the illegal activity or merely acting on an opportunity to engage in the illegal act offered by law enforcement does not constitute entrapment.
Courts have held that entrapment is along the lines of police coming up with an entire plot to get a defendant involved with selling drugs and then arresting him once he has joined in on the conspiracy, while merely offering to buy drugs from a defendant who is already engaging in the sale of a controlled substance would not constitute entrapment.
Establishing Entrapment at Trial
To prove entrapment in court, a defendant initially has the burden of showing that law enforcement induced him to act illegally, meaning that he would not have committed any crime if the police hadn’t first come up with it. If the defendant can establish this, then the burden shifts to the prosecution. When the defendant produces evidence of entrapment, the state must show beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no evidence of entrapment
The state’s attorney must then show that the defendant had a predisposition to commit the crime. This mean showing that the defendant had an inclination to the commit the crime, which could be established simply by showing that the defendant was quick to purchase illegal drugs from an informant if offered them. Overcoming predisposition in that case would require showing that the defendant had no urge to purchase drugs until an informant continually badgered him into purchasing them and violating the law.
As illustrated above, the differences between what does and does not constitute entrapment can be highly technical and fact specific. This can make establishing an entrapment defense extremely difficult in even the best of circumstances. Attempting to use entrapment as a defense also carries some risk as it basically means admitting that a crime was committed, but that there was a good reason to do an illegal act. For these reasons, it’s important to enlist an experienced criminal defense attorney before pursuing an entrapment defense.
Chicago Criminal Defense
If you’re facing drugs or firearms charges, the State’s Attorney’s Office will likely be looking to hit you with a heavy sentence. That’s why it’s so important to choose a Chicago criminal defense attorney who understands how to protect your rights and if it’s appropriate to use a defense like entrapment. For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.