Understanding Entrapment in Alabama

Entrapment is not a criminal charge, but rather a defense that can be used by defendants during a criminal trial against the government prosecution. Commonly associated with entrapment are sting operations and undercover officers. In these situations, police officers and government agents are allowed to provide individuals with opportunities to commit a crime, but not induce them to commit a crime. 

Federal Establishment of Entrapment Defense

Entrapment was recognized as a federal defense with a Supreme Court case decided during the era of Prohibition. Under a ruse, a government agent met with a suspected rumrunner and repeatedly asked during the rendezvous to buy alcohol. After initially resisting, the defendant eventually supplied alcohol and was arrested. The case eventually reached the highest court, which found that the defendant’s actions, though illegal, were the result of being induced by the government.

Entrapment in Alabama

Alabama uses the same decisional law on entrapment that the state and federal courts use. So, the state uses entrapment essentially the same way as many other states. In Alabama, this means the defense is generally bound to use the subjective standard (vs. the objective standard) in proving entrapment.

The subjective standard deals with the defendant’s state of mind before he or she committed the crime. To use the entrapment defense with the subjective test, the defense must prove that the defendant did not have a predisposition to commit the crime in question. This is somewhat more difficult than using the objective standard. 

There are some cases in which the defense in an Alabama criminal case may use the objective standard in proving entrapment. This standard deals with the actions of the law enforcement agent and whether or not his or her actions induced the defendant to commit the crime. Because it is based on specific actions taken and not on someone’s (subjective)state of mind, the objective standard is easier to use to prove entrapment.

What is Not Entrapment?

Sting operations, despite criticism, are not considered examples of entrapment. Let’s say a local police department is doing a prostitution sting due to recent complaints of prostitution. An undercover officer poses as a prostitute and solicits work from local passersby on a street corner during an afternoon. Someone agreeing to a sexual encounter that day would not be entrapped because significant coaxing or convincing did not need to take place for the agreement of services.

Contact Us

Unfortunately, entrapment is difficult to use successfully in court. The burden of proof for entrapment rests with the defendant, and it takes a knowledgeable attorney with ample experience in criminal defense to pull it off. If you feel you’ve been entrapped, please contact us today and see what we can do for your situation. 

Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.