Is Entrapment a Criminal Defense in Arizona?

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Is Entrapment a Criminal Defense in Arizona?

Maybe scenes from the 1999 film with Sean Conery and Catherine Zeta-Jones flit through your mind when you hear the word entrapment. Even if you have seen the film, you may not fully understand what criminal entrapment actually is. Who can commit the crime of entrapment and is entrapment a criminal defense in Arizona? 

What is entrapment?

Entrapment is an act whereby a law enforcement agent induces a civilian to commit a crime by unethical and forceful means. The law exists to deter law enforcement agents from abusing their power and cannot be used against a civilian. 

Are undercover cops guilty of entrapment? 

Since judges expect the ordinary person to resist the temptation to commit a crime, entrapment occurs when a law enforcement agent resorts to threats, blackmail, harassment, or other unethical means to coerce a person to commit a crime. It is here where they distinguish between opportunity and entrapment. If a cop is working undercover and they participate in ‘offering’ or allowing the opportunity to commit a crime, they cannot be alleged of criminal entrapment. 

What is the entrapment law in Arizona? 

In states where entrapment law exists, there are two standards of entrapment: objective or subjective. Under an objective standard, jurors determine whether the entrapment evidence presented is likely to have induced any average, law-abiding citizen to undertake the same actions. Under the subjective standard, jurors determine whether the defendant’s predisposition to commit a crime makes them responsible for their actions, regardless of possible agent coercion.  

In Arizona, defendants must follow the subjective standard. According to ARS 13-206, a defendant must prove by a preponderance of evidence that conduct by law enforcement agents would likely induce a normally law-abiding person to commit a crime. In addition, they must prove that they are “not predisposed to commit the type of offense charged before the law enforcement officers or their agents urged and induced the person to commit the offense.”

Can entrapment be a criminal defense? 

Yes, in certain circumstances, entrapment can be a defense in a criminal case. If there is sufficient evidence to prove that a law enforcement agent not only provided an opportunity to commit a crime, but they actually crossed the line by somehow “forcing” a person to commit a crime, entrapment can be used as a criminal defense. 

If you have participated in a crime in Arizona where entrapment may have been involved, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact Todd Coolidge today for your free case consultation


Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay (3/2/2020)