Entrapment is a complicated and often hard to use defense in Virginia. As a criminal defendant, it’s not enough to allege that you were set up by law enforcement. Instead, the specific elements of an entrapment defense must be satisfied before the court will dismiss your criminal case.
What Is Entrapment?
In Virginia, a criminal defendant may successfully raise an entrapment defense if law enforcement, the government, or any agent of the government:
- Induced or persuaded the defendant to commit a crime through trickery, persuasion, or fraud. The government must actively convince you to commit a crime that you would not otherwise commit. According to the Virginia Supreme Court, “…Entrapment occurs only when the criminal conduct was the product of a ‘creative activity’ that implants in the mind of an otherwise innocent person the disposition to commit an offense….”
- Tries to punish the defendant for committing the crime the defendant was induced or persuaded to commit. It’s not enough the government set you up as a decoy or informer. Instead, the government must be trying to punish you for the crime you were set up to commit.
Additionally, the defendant must not be predisposed to committing the crime without government persuasion. If you raise an entrapment defense, the prosecution may enter evidence about your previous arrests and criminal convictions as well as evidence about your reputation and general conduct.
If you raise an entrapment defense and the court agrees with you, then the charges against you will be dropped and the criminal case will be dismissed.
What Entrapment Is Not
You do not have an entrapment defense if:
- The government offered you the opportunity to commit a crime. Persuasion is a critical element of an entrapment defense. Police use of decoys, undercover agents, and informers who present an opportunity for a person willing to commit a crime is not entrapment if used according to proper police department procedures.
- A private person who does not work for the government sets you up. That person may be guilty of criminal solicitation, but you still won’t have an entrapment defense.
Your entrapment defense may also be very challenging if you have a previous criminal history. For example, if you have sold drugs in the past and an undercover agent approached you to sell drugs, then you may have a difficult time with an entrapment defense.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney About All of Your Options
Entrapment is just one possible defense in a Virginia criminal case. While entrapment defenses are difficult, they are not impossible and our experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyers will explore entrapment and all of your other possible defenses to make sure that your rights are protected.
Every criminal case is unique, and each defendant deserves to have every possible defense considered. Whether you’ve been charged with drunk driving, a drug offense, theft, or another type of crime, our lawyers will answer all of your questions and consider all of your possible defenses so that your legal rights are protected.
Together we have more than 80 years of combined legal experienced. We aren’t afraid of complex cases or pursuing difficult defenses like entrapment. However, we will always provide you with an honest assessment of your case and your potential defenses. We want you to have a realistic view of your defense so that you know what to expect next. Therefore, if entrapment is unrealistic for you, we will make sure that you understand why.
Whether you have already been charged with a crime or you believe that criminal charges may be coming, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule your first consultation with our experienced legal team. Call us, start a live chat with us, or complete our online contact form to learn more. We will do everything that we can to make sure that you don’t have the burden of an unfair criminal conviction on your record.