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is a defense in criminal law that questions the propriety of police action. Defined as the actions of government officials with the goal of criminal prosecution to induce a person to commit a crime that was not contemplated by the person


Entrapment test divided into two general categories

subjective and objective


subjective test

focuses on a defendant's predisposition and hold that entrapment exists only if the accused had no predisposition to commit the offense, but did so because of inducement by the government agent.


objective test

Sorrells v United States, 1932
focuses on the conduct of the government agent by asking: were the activities of the government agent so instigative that they could well have induced an innocent person to commit the crime.


the accused past conduct is irrelevant; what is relevant is the conduct of the government agent

objective test


entrapment occurs when the government inducs a person to commit a crime that he would not have otherwise committed or had no predisposition to commit

Sherman v Unites States, 1958
gov informant met Sherman in a doctors officer, where both were being treated for drug addiction. informant kept nagging Sherman about supplying drugs. finally, sherman gave him drugs. Entrapment, because gove informant induced Sherman to commit the crime


Sherman case also decided that the accused bears the burden of proving entrapemnt and that the factual issue of whether the defendant was actually entrapped is a question of fact, not a question of law and is therefore for the jury to decide



Supplying one of the necessary ingredients for the manufacture of a prohibited drug does not constitute entrapement

Unites States v Russell, 1973
undercover agent supplied Russell with a legal component to make illegal drug. in return, agent wanted one half of the speed made.


The law enforcment conduct in Russell, stops short of violating that "fundamental fairness" shocking to the universal sense of justice, mandated by the due process clause of the 5th Amend



Russell case illustrates the majority view on entrapment defense

view focuses on the predisposition of the defendant to commit the alleged act, rather than on an analysis of the conduct of government.


There is no entrapment when a government informant supplies heroin to a suspect who is predisposed to commit the crime.

Hampton v United States, 1976
DEA informant supplied heroin t Hampton who turned and sold the heroin t government agent. No entrapement. the suspect who had the predisposition to commit the crime.


Note, that state law or court decisions determine the entrapment rule in a particular state;

Hampton rule only applies in federal cases.
State entrapment defenses depend on whether a state uses the majority or minority view.


The entrapment defense may be raised even if the defendant denies one or more elements of the crime charged

Mathews v United States, 1988
Mathews arrested for accepting a bribe in exchange for government services. Affirmative defense of entrapment may be raised if there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that there was entrapment


Mathews case resolves an issue that generated inconsistent decisions among the various federal courts of appeal.

Third, Sixth and Seventh Circuits allowed entrapment defense only if Defendant admiited to commiting all elements of crime.
Ninth and District of Columbia Circuits, allowed raising the entrapment defense even if the accused denied any or all elements of the offense. Court in Mathews rejected these claims, saying the issue was not whether defendant's claims were inconsistent, but whether sufficient ground existed .
This is a question for the trial judge to decide.


Government entrapment exists if government agents originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person's mind the disposition to commit a criminal act and then induce the commission of the crime so that the government can prosecute

Jacobson v United States, 1992
in 1984 Jacobson ordered two magazines from adult bookstore titled Bare Boys 1 and Bare Boys 2, which contained photos of nude preteen and teenage boys. Jacobson's purchase was not illegal at that time. Child Protection Act of 1984 was passed, which criminalized the receipt thru mail of visual depiction involving the use of minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. over 26 months, different gov agencies re-contacted Jacobson thru five fictitious organizations. Jacobson finally responded to one solicited brochure. Jacobson ordered magazines Boys Who Love Boys. Once delivered, Jacobson was arrested. This case was entrapment.


entrapment rule states

Gov agents may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person's mind the disposition to commit a criminal act and then induce commission of the crime so that gov may prosecute.Sorrells v United States.