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Indiana criminal law recognizes the legal defense of entrapment. However, conduct that merely offers an individual an opportunity to commit a crime does not constitute entrapment. Indiana law defines entrapment as follows:
IC § 35-41-3-9 Entrapment
(a) It is a defense that:
(1) the prohibited conduct of the person was the product of a law enforcement officer, or his agent, using persuasion or other means likely to cause the person to engage in the conduct; and
(2) the person was not predisposed to commit the offense.
(b) Conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit the offense does not constitute entrapment.
Entrapment is a defense used in criminal cases where the defendant claims that they were induced or coerced by law enforcement officials to commit a crime that they would not have otherwise committed. In lay terms, entrapment is an argument that a person should not be convicted of a crime because they were induced or encouraged by a law enforcement officer to commit the crime.
Indiana has adopted the objective test for entrapment, which means that the defendant must show that they were induced to commit a crime that they would not have otherwise committed, and that the inducement was so significant that it created a substantial risk that the crime would be committed by someone who was not predisposed to commit it.
In Indiana, the entrapment defense is codified in Indiana Code § 35-41-3-9, cited above. The statute provides that it is a defense to a criminal charge that:
- The prohibited conduct of the person was the product of a law enforcement officer, or his agent, using persuasion or other means likely to cause the person to engage in the conduct; and
- The person was not predisposed to commit the offense.
The statute provides that a person is not guilty of a crime if they committed the crime as a result of being induced or coerced by a law enforcement officer, or by someone acting at the direction of a law enforcement officer, to commit the offense, and the person’s conduct was a direct result of the inducement or coercion.
The first element of the entrapment defense requires the defendant to show that the law enforcement officer or their agent actually induced them to commit the crime. This can be done by showing that the officer or agent:
- Made promises or threats;
- Provided the defendant with the means to commit the crime;
- Repeatedly asked the defendant to commit the crime; or
- Otherwise pressured the defendant to commit the crime.
The second element of the entrapment defense requires the defendant to show that they were not predisposed to commit the crime. This can be done by showing that the defendant had no prior criminal history or that they had never expressed an interest in committing the crime before they were approached by the law enforcement officer or their agent.
The entrapment defense is an affirmative defense, which means that the defendant must raise it at trial. If the defendant does not raise the defense, the court will generally not consider the defense.
One of the most well-known cases is United States v. Russell, which was heard by the United States Supreme Court in 1973. In this case, the defendant was charged with manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine. The defendant argued that he had been entrapped by the government because an undercover agent had supplied him with the precursor chemicals necessary to manufacture the drug. The Supreme Court rejected the defendant’s entrapment defense, holding that the government’s conduct did not create a risk that an otherwise innocent person would have committed the crime.
Another notable case is State v. Chambers, which was decided by the Indiana Court of Appeals in 2008. In Chambers, the defendant was charged with dealing in cocaine. The defendant argued that he had been entrapped by a confidential informant who had repeatedly asked him to sell him drugs. The court rejected the defendant’s entrapment defense, holding that the defendant had already been involved in drug dealing prior to the informant’s involvement and that the informant’s actions did not create a substantial risk that an otherwise innocent person would have committed the crime. However, in State v. Wilson, 585 N.E.2d 1000 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992), the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the defendant was entrapped when a police officer offered to sell him cocaine after the defendant had expressed no interest in buying drugs. In another case, State v. Smith, 615 N.E.2d 1241 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993), the Indiana Court of Appeals court held that the defendant was not entrapped where he agreed to sell drugs to a police officer after the officer had repeatedly asked him to do so.
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