Florida Entrapment Laws

Entrapment Laws in the State of Florida

Pursuant to our Florida and United States Constitution, entrapment is an affirmative defense your lawyer can bring up to the judge, prosecutor or jury to excuse an unlawful criminal activity. Entrapment happens when cops have improperly induced a person to commit a crime when the person induced was not predisposed to commit such a crime. In Florida, the defense of entrapment will often apply to cases involving solicitation of prostitution, travelling to meet a minor, sex crimes, prostitution, assignation, drug trafficking, and drug possession and massage without a license.

How is Entrapment Defined Under Florida Law?

There are two types of entrapment under Florida law: (1) “subjective entrapment,” and (2) “objective entrapment.”

The defense of subjective entrapment is based upon whether the person charged with the crime was predisposed to commit an offense. To establish subjective entrapment, a defendant must show by a preponderance of the evidence that a government agent, police officer, undercover agent induced him or her to commit the offense and that the defendant was not predisposed to do so. A criminal lawyer does that putting on evidence on in a jury or bench trial. Often, the Defendant testifies to what the police did to induce him or her to commit the crime and then the burden shifts to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was in fact predisposed to commit the offense

The test for subjective entrapment is set forth in Section 777.201, Florida Statutes. Under the statute, an accused must establish the following elements by the preponderance of the evidence:

(1) the accused was induced or encouraged by law enforcement or a law enforcement agent (such as a confidential informant) to engage in criminal conduct in order for law enforcement to obtain evidence of the commission of a crime;

(2) the accused engaged in such criminal conduct as a direct result of law enforcement inducement or encouragement;

(3) the person who induced or encouraged the accused was a law enforcement officer or a person engaged in cooperating with or acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer;

(4) the person who induced or encouraged the accused employed methods of persuasion or inducement so as to create a substantial risk that the crime would be committed by a person other than the one who was ready to commit it; and

(5) the accused was not a person ready to commit the crime.

If the Defendant can make the initial showing and the State can not show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was predisposed to commit the alleged crime, and further that the defendant’s predisposition to commit the crime existed prior to and independent of the inducement or encouragement by law enforcement then the person accused must be found Not Guilty of committing the crime. Of course the danger is that if the Jury does not believe the Defendant, he or she is in trouble because they have admitted to the crime.

Florida law also recognizes the defense of objective entrapment. Objective entrapment concerns egregious law enforcement conduct and is evaluated under the due process provision of the Florida Constitution. A criminal attorney can raise the defense of objective entrapment by asking the court to review the totality of the circumstances in the Defendant’s arrest case to determine whether police conduct offends canons of decency and fairness. If the Court finds that the Police overstepped their boundaries, dismissal of the charges may be warranted. It may be helpful to the reader to provide examples through reported Florida cases referencing what police activity may constitute objective entrapment. In one case, a court found that the police overstepped their bounds when they propositioned an alleged prostitute and committed acts of a sexual nature with the defendant and then charged her for the offense. In another case, the police actually helped manufacture the illegal substance they eventually charged the defendant with possessing. In another reported case, the government actually showed a defendant how to engage in a loan sharking operation and then arrested the defendant for the conduct.

Before you plead guilty or no contest to any crime in florida, explore with a criminal lawyer the entrapment defense. Entrapment and the crime you are charged can be intertwined and before you enter a plea it is important that you explore whether it is a legitimate defense to raise in your case.

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