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, traveling to meet a minor, sex crimes, prostitution, assignation, drug trafficking, 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.”

Inside Subjective 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 at 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

Standards of the Subjective Entrapment Test

The test for subjective entrapment is set forth in Florida Statute § 777.201. Under the statute, the 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.

One of the only dangers is that if the jury does not believe the Defendant, he or she could be in trouble as they have admitted to committing the crime.

Inside Objective Entrapment

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 defense 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.

For example, Ashley has a criminal record for drug use. An undercover officer meets Ashley in a bar and gives her cocaine. Before Ashley agrees to buy cocaine, the cop snorts some cocaine to make Ashley believe he is a drug dealer. She gives money to the cop to purchase the coke and is ultimately arrested. In this instance, Ashley may be able to claim the objective entrapment defense, because Law Enforcement violated a law (cop snorted the cocaine) in order to induce Ashley to purchase drugs. Evidence of Ashley’s criminal record may not be admissible into evidence to prove predisposition as the objective entrapment defense focuses instead on law enforcement tactics.  

In another example, 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.  

Acquiring the Necessary Legal Help Against Criminal Charges

Before you plead guilty or no contest to any crime in Florida, explore the entrapment defense with a criminal lawyer. 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.

The Orlando criminal defense attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm can help you do just that.  We boast a team of former state and local prosecutors with over 100 years of combined legal experience. We understand how both sides of the law operate, having tried hundreds of cases, and can use our insight to explore all possible defense options available in your case. Particularly, to have charges lessened or even dropped if possible. Contact us today at 407-228-3838 for a free case evaluation.