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Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:12 pm
Using the Entrapment Defense in Your St. Petersburg Criminal Case
If you’ve been charged with a crime in St. Petersburg, Florida, you may be wondering if you can use the entrapment defense. Entrapment is a legal defense that claims law enforcement unfairly induced or coerced you into committing a crime you otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s a complex legal strategy that requires proving you had no prior intent to break the law. This article will explain how entrapment works in Florida, when its applicable, and how to build an entrapment defense in your St. Petersburg criminal case.
What is Entrapment?
Entrapment occurs when police or government agents convince or pressure someone to commit a crime they wouldn’t have otherwise committed. For example, if an undercover cop pressured you into buying illegal drugs for them multiple times, even though you initially refused, that could be entrapment. Or if a federal agent threatened your family unless you agreed to participate in a money laundering scheme, that’s entrapment too.
The key is that you must not have been predisposed to commit the crime in the first place. Entrapment claims won’t work if you were already involved in criminal activity or willingly went along with the plan. So if you jumped at the chance to rob a bank with someone who turned out to be an undercover agent, you can’t claim entrapment.
When Can the Entrapment Defense Apply?
In Florida, entrapment defenses are used most often in drug crimes, prostitution stings, and corruption cases targeting public officials. Common scenarios include:
- An undercover officer pressuring someone into buying or selling drugs after they refused several times
- An agent posing as a hitman and strongly persuading someone to hire them
- A federal informant blackmailing or coercing a public official into accepting a bribe
But these defenses can potentially apply to any type of criminal charge where police used prohibited inducements, threats, or coercion to push someone into breaking the law.
Proving Entrapment in Florida
To win with an entrapment defense in Florida, your St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer will need to prove two things:
- Law enforcement officers induced you to commit a crime through persuasion or coercion
- You were not already willing to commit the crime
This means gathering evidence like transcripts of conversations with agents or informants showing how you refused and they kept pressuring you. Or demonstrating how you had no prior criminal history related to the charges.
It’s also key to show you did not originate the criminal idea or willingly go along with it. That’s why entrapment claims rarely work in drug stings – defendants can’t prove they weren’t already predisposed to buy or sell drugs.
Using Entrapment in Your St. Petersburg Criminal Case
If you believe you were entrapped, here are some tips for building this defense in your St. Petersburg case:
- Don’t admit guilt or make statements about your involvement – this can ruin the predisposition element
- Gather evidence like recordings, emails, texts showing how agents induced you
- Research the tactics used – were they improper or coercive based on caselaw?
- Look for patterns – has the officer or agency done this before?
- Hire an experienced St. Pete defense lawyer to argue entrapment
- Consider an entrapment defense expert witness
- File a motion to dismiss based on entrapment grounds
- Negotiate a plea deal if your case looks weak at trial
Keep in mind that entrapment is very hard to prove in Florida. The burden is on you to show you wouldn’t have broken the law without the inducement. And the prosecution will argue you were already a “willing participant.” An experienced local lawyer can help analyze your case and build the best defense.
Entrapment provides a way out when police cross the line. But it’s no guarantee, so don’t rely on it as your only option. Be sure to explore every defense possible if you’re facing charges.