If you face a criminal charge in Nevada, entrapment may be a potential defense to the charge, depending on the circumstances of the case. Generally, entrapment involves improper police conduct that induces a person to commit a crime that the person otherwise would not commit. To constitute entrapment, the circumstances meet specific legally-required criteria. Getting advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to determine whether entrapment may apply to your case.

What Constitutes Entrapment?

Nevada courts have long recognized the defense of entrapment in criminal cases, as have the federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

Entrapment consists of improper police conduct involving threats, pressure, deceit, or other actions that induce a person to commit a crime they would not have committed in the absence of the police conduct. For entrapment to occur, two requirements must be met: 1) Improper police conduct led to commission of the crime, and 2) The defendant lacked a predisposition to commit the crime.

Regarding the requirement of improper police conduct, it is not sufficient to constitute entrapment if law enforcement simply creates the opportunity for commission of a crime. Sting operations and use of undercover officers do not, standing alone, constitute entrapment. There must be specific police actions directed to the individual that amount to a threat or pressure, such as offering significant incentives (like money), making specific threats, or using repeated harassment.

To constitute entrapment, the second requirement is that the person would not have committed the crime in the absence of the police conduct, which means there was not a predisposition to commit the crime. This aspect of entrapment can be difficult to demonstrate, except that conviction of prior similar offenses or other evidence showing the person engaged in similar conduct may negate the lack of predisposition.

Most often, entrapment occurs in police undercover operations. The most common types of crimes where it occurs are prostitution, selling of drugs, and sale of child pornography, but it can occur in any type of crime.

Asserting Entrapment as a Defense

If the facts and circumstances support an entrapment defense, it is asserted as an affirmative defense in a criminal case. The two requirements of entrapment involve both objective and subjective standards, which makes it challenging to prove entrapment as a defense.

If a defendant claims entrapment, the burden is on the defendant to produce evidence that demonstrates the improper conduct of the police. The actions must involve threats, pressure, or another type of coercion that induced the defendant to commit the offense. 

As a practical matter, if the defense successfully shows the necessary impermissible police actions, the burden shifts to the prosecution to show that the defendant had a predisposition to commit the crime. The predisposition issue focuses on whether the defendant was inclined to commit the crime without any inducement from law enforcement. Most often, the prosecution relies on evidence of conviction of prior similar offenses or evidence that the defendant engaged in similar conduct in a different situation.

Ultimately, the jury or judge determines whether both criteria are met by the evidence. If the evidence does not show both improper police conduct and a lack of predisposition on the part of the defendant, the defense of entrapment will not be successful.

Evaluating Your Case

If you think the circumstances of your case may amount to entrapment by police, you should talk with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can evaluate the situation and help you decide how to proceed.

If you face any criminal charge in Nevada, the best way to fight the charge is by retaining an experienced attorney to represent you. Entrapment is not the only defense that may be available. A criminal defense attorney has the skill and experience to evaluate all aspects of a criminal charge to determine the most advantageous strategy for contesting the charge, as well as explore all available defenses and options for proceeding.

Without legal representation, it will be difficult for you to get an advantageous outcome in your case. Your attorney protects all your legal rights, pursues every avenue for challenging the charges, and builds the strongest defense possible. Having experienced representation in court and in discussions with the prosecutor is the best approach in any criminal case.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you face any type of federal or state criminal charge, Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten is here to help. His extensive investigative and trial background and experience enable him to provide an aggressive defense to any Nevada criminal charge, regardless of the offense.

The Gersten Law Firm assists clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. There is no charge for your initial consultation. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.