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Using entrapment as a defense against drug charges

Say you are a law-abiding, non-drug-using citizen minding your own business when a person approaches you and offers to sell you an illegal substance like cocaine or marijuana. You politely decline but the individual continues to persist and perhaps even attempts to intimidate you. Finally, you agree because maybe you are mildly curious about the drug or maybe you simply wish to end the interaction as cleanly as possible.

You make the purchase and then the individual who sold you the drugs produces a badge and says you are under arrest. Surely, this is a clear case of entrapment, right? It probably is, but do not make the mistake of assuming that will be the case. Instead, get yourself an attorney and get to work on your defense. Here is why.

The general definition of entrapment is, when an authorized agent induces someone to engage in criminal activities through "fraud or undue persuasion." The goal of entrapment is to create a situation in which charges can be filed against the alleged criminal. Even in a case like the example above, defendants still need help proving entrapment. On the other hand, the prosecution or law enforcement also has some proving to do.

Namely, it is up to the state or federal agents to prove that the defendant was predisposed to committing the alleged crime. This means they must prove that the defendant would have likely bought the drugs without coercion or "undue persuasion." Sometimes, this is easy for the prosecution to prove but in situations like the one above it may not be so easy, especially if the defendant has good counsel.

As far as the defense goes, the defendant and his or her attorney simply have to show that the alleged criminal behavior occurred only due to the conduct or actions of law enforcement agents.

Entrapment is a complex area of the law in Ohio, but when a defendant works closely with legal counsel it could lead to success in the courtroom.

Source: Justice.gov, "Criminal Resource Manual 647 Entrapment -- Proving Predisposition," accessed May. 20, 2015

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