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What constitutes entrapment under federal law?

In the criminal justice system, there may be times when it seems that the crime was unfairly induced by an agent of the government. Depending on the circumstances, a federal crime could have resulted from entrapment. If you felt pressured into committing a crime by a government agent whom you did not realize was an agent, you may be able to defend your innocence.

What exactly is entrapment? According to the United States Department of Justice, entrapment is a viable defense when certain elements were present at the time of the alleged criminal charge. The first involves inducement by authorities that is overly persuasive, coercive or even threatening. The second, and perhaps most important, element requires that the defendant had a lack of predisposition to commit the crime.

For example, an undercover officer might repeatedly visit your home, asking you for drugs. He or she could play on your sympathy, use flattery or even harass or threaten you to supply the requested substance. You may deny the request again and again to no avail. If you eventually cave in and are arrested, you could have a case for entrapment.

On the other hand, if you immediately and willingly supply the drugs when an agent asks, this scenario would generally not be considered entrapment.

If you've been charged with a federal crime and think you might have been a victim of entrapment, your first step should be to discuss your concerns with an experienced criminal defense attorney. It's true that entrapment has traditionally been hard for the defense to prove, but federal agents often work pretty close to the line. If you could have a valid entrapment defense, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to have the charges reduced or dropped entirely.

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