A lot of people seem to have the wrong idea about what entrapment in North Carolina means. Entrapment is an affirmative defense to a crime. People oftentimes misinterpret entrapment to essentially mean that sting operations typically constitute entrapment. The reality is, most sting operations do not even come close to entrapment in North Carolina. The defense of entrapment is relatively rare and is it is even more rare for a defendant to actually prevail using this defense. In this blog, we will try to clear up some of the confusion regarding what entrapment means and what it doesn’t mean.
What must a defendant show in order to be entitled to use the defense of entrapment? The defendant must show evidence of the following:
- acts of persuasion, trickery, or fraud carried out by law enforcement officers or their agents to induce a defendant to commit a crime; and
- the criminal design originated in the minds of the government officials, rather than the innocent defendant, such that the crime is the product of the creative activity of the law enforcement authorities
The key to entrapment in North Carolina is, did the police officers entice an innocent defendant to do something that he would not have done but for the suggestions of the police officers? Let’s take a look at some examples to compare.
Example 1) A defendant that regularly sells cocaine gets arrested as the result of a sting operation. Meaning, the government set up a buy/bust and an undercover agent got the defendant to “sell” the officer drugs. Is this entrapment? Based on these facts alone, no. The defendant in this case was already engaged in this type of criminal activity. This police did not concoct this idea and entice the defendant to do something that he wasn’t already going to do. The police just set him up this time to make a case against him.
Example 2) Defendant meets an undercover officer at a bar. He engages in conversation with the officer and the defendant thinks they are hitting it off. The defendant is just a regular guy who has never been involved in illegal activity and does not deal drugs. However, the undercover officer entices the defendant to find the officer a kilo of cocaine since the officer has believes the Defendant’s friend is involved in a drug operation. Is this entrapment? Likely, yes.
Also, remember that entrapment is only a defense when the entrapment is carried out by a law enforcement officer or her agents. You cannot assert a defense of entrapment in any other scenario. Here are a couple of more things to note about entrapment in North Carolina. Entrapment is an affirmative defense, meaning, the defendant does not dispute that he committed the alleged offense, but says that his behavior should be excused because he only committed the offense as a result of the entrapment. Finally, entrapment is a defense that must be specifically asserted prior to the trial. The defendant is required to give the State notice of his intent to use this defense.
If you have been charged with a crime in North Carolina or South Carolina, you should contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your defenses. The criminal defense lawyers at Gilles Law can help you understand your options.