Back in August of last year, community activists accused Chicago police officers of using “bait trucks” to catch criminals in predominantly black communities. They claimed officers were setting up trucks filled with Nike shoes to trap people who were breaking into trailer trucks. While police called it an effort to thwart burglaries, activists said that it was actually entrapment: a way to trick people into committing crimes to make an arrest. This legal gray area is a controversial one, so there are important facts you need to know if you believe police behavior has encouraged a crime.
What Is Entrapment?
Under Illinois law, entrapment is a legal concept that relates to when a person is incited by law enforcement into committing a crime. State law explicitly notes that a person is not guilty of a crime if their behavior is induced by police when that person was not otherwise predisposed to do so. However, entrapment can be difficult to determine as it walks a fine line between police encouragement to commit a crime and situations where police create a particular environment that might lead a person to commit a crime that they had not otherwise considered.
For example, if an officer went undercover to bust up a prostitution ring, it might not be considered entrapment if the officer solicited prostitutes or attempted to get the suspect to engage in sexual acts. It might not be considered entrapment, however, if a police officer went undercover to bust up the ring and was approached by a prostitute to engage in criminal activity.
How Do You Prove Entrapment?
Proving entrapment can be difficult at times because law enforcement will claim their methods simply gave criminals an opportunity to commit crimes that they were interested in committing in the first place. In order to demonstrate entrapment, your criminal defense attorney will look at the exact actions of the police, and how they interacted with the person later charged. They will also, of course, need to analyze the defendant’s eagerness to commit the crime and any admissions that were made to the officer.
What If I’m a Victim of Entrapment?
If you believe you were led by police into committing a crime, the first thing you need to do is reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer so that a plan best suited to defending your rights can be formulated. By alleging entrapment, you are partially admitting that you committed an improper act, but also suggesting that you should not be found guilty because you were convinced to do so by an officer of the law. A judge will look at many factors when making this determination, including whether you kept any proceeds from the crime or whether you had engaged in any prior behaviors that would suggest that you might have committed the crime on your own anyway. It is important to note that entrapment only applies to engagements with police officers, as private citizens and public officials cannot be accused of entrapment.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
From drug dealing to retail theft to prostitution, accusations of entrapment are serious and deserve to be handled aggressively to make sure that no irreparable harm is done to you or your reputation. Call the criminal defense attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner and Associates LLC right away at (312) 644-0444 for a free initial consultation at either of our convenient office locations in Arlington Heights and Chicago. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.