Most people are familiar with the concept of “entrapment.” You’ve probably seen TV shows or movies where undercover officers or confidential informants get themselves embedded in a group that’s planning criminal activity so that they can gather evidence against them or even catch them in the act.
That isn’t necessarily entrapment. Entrapment often simply involves one officer or someone working for law enforcement going too far.
How does Georgia law define entrapment?
According to the Georgia statute on entrapment, “Entrapment exists where the idea and intention of the commission of the crime originated with a government officer or employee, or with an agent of either, and he, by undue persuasion, incitement, or deceitful means, induced the accused to commit the act which the accused would not have committed except for the conduct of such officer.” A person who was entrapped into committing a crime is considered not to be guilty.
Those considered “government agents” can include civilians working for law enforcement. For example, a person might agree to be a confidential informant in exchange for avoiding their own criminal charges or getting them reduced. No officer working undercover is required to disclose their identity or purpose, and they can lie if asked.
Entrapment is used to arrest people for a multitude of crimes
Whether someone is accused of a drug crime or a sophisticated white-collar criminal conspiracy, they may be able to claim entrapment as a defense. Let’s look at a simple example. Say you’re arrested by an undercover officer who asked if you had drugs to sell, and you sold him some you had on you. His request to buy drugs isn’t entrapment. On the other hand, if an undercover officer said they really needed drugs and if you didn’t go find them some, they’d hunt you down and kill you, so you did, that would be a clear case of entrapment.
These are extremes, of course, and many cases are in a gray area somewhere in-between. It may ultimately be up to a jury to decide based on the law.
Entrapment can involve all types of crime, from drug offenses to elaborate white-collar criminal schemes. Entrapment can occur online, as well. If you believe you were entrapped into committing a crime you otherwise would not have committed, having experienced legal guidance is crucial to protecting your rights and presenting your case.