“Entrapment” is one of those legal phrases that has found its way into the popular culture, and so everyone has some kind of idea what it means, but these assumptions are usually wrong. Even the blockbuster 1999 movie Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones was completely wrong in its application of the term (for starters, only law enforcement or their agents can entrap an individual, and not a private insurance investigator). So what is entrapment, and when does it serve as a defense to a crime in Oklahoma?
Entrapment in Oklahoma (and most other jurisdictions for that matter) is present when a person has no previous intent or purpose to commit a crime but is induced to commit a crime by law enforcement. There is no entrapment, however, when a person does have a readiness or willingness to commit a crime and law enforcement officers or their agents then facilitate the crime, even if no crime would have occurred without the assistance of law enforcement.
The Bicycle Thief and the Bicycle Not-a-Thief
Let’s take an example of a brand-new, expensive bicycle placed without a lock outside of a large store by a plain-clothed police officer who is waiting around the corner remotely monitoring the situation. If a young man walks along, sees the bicycle, and makes off with it, intending to keep or sell it, then the police officer can arrest the young man for theft, there is no entrapment defense because the officer did nothing to induce the young man to form the intent to commit the crime but rather merely provided the opportunity.
Taking the same example but with different facts, let’s say the young man sees the bicycle but walks past because he is not interested in committing a bicycle theft. If the plain-clothed police officer comes around the corner, and, says, “Hey, the guy who left that bicycle won’t be coming back for an hour. It’s probably worth $1,000. I don’t think anyone would catch you if you decided to take off with it,” and then the young man decides to take the bike after all, then that would be entrapment. Because the young man did not have an intent to commit a crime but only formed the intent after being induced by the law enforcement officer, this is a case of entrapment and he can argue that he is therefore not guilty of theft.
Tough Criminal Defense in Your Arrest or Investigation
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian has the knowledge, experience, and tenacity to fight on your behalf towards a closed investigation, dismissal of charges, not guilty verdict, or other favorable outcome. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.