Alabama residents who are arrested after buying or selling drugs from an undercover police officer or police informant often mount defenses based on entrapment, but juries rarely find these arguments persuasive. This is because prosecutors know what entrapment is, and they do not often take cases to court that are likely to be thrown out because of it. When defendants can establish that they were entrapped, the charges against them are dismissed.
What is entrapment?
A police officer or government agent engages in entrapment when they convince an individual or group of individuals to commit crimes that they would otherwise not have committed. Most entrapment defenses fail because the defendants were known criminals who would likely have committed their crimes anyway. Any person who works with the police during an undercover operation is considered to be a government agent.
Sherman v. United States
Sherman v. United States is one of the most important criminal law cases involving entrapment. It was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958. The justices voted unanimously to overturn the conviction of a New York man who sold drugs to an undercover informant he met while receiving substance abuse treatment. The man had no criminal record, and he refused to sell drugs to the undercover informant on several occasions before finally agreeing to his requests.
In criminal law, entrapment occurs when a police officer or government agent convinces a person or group of people to commit crimes that they would not have committed without encouragement, but proving it can be challenging. Defendants with long criminal records may find it difficult to convince a court that they would not have committed crimes if they had not been encouraged. However, entrapment arguments made by individuals with clean records who were reluctant to commit crimes would likely be taken more seriously.