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Sonoma County Entrapment Laws

Information About Sonoma County Entrapment Laws

In California, entrapment occurs if the following three circumstances existed: (1) an officer communicated with the defendant before he committed the crime with which he was charged, (2) the officer’s communication included an inducement to commit the crime, and (3) the inducement was such that it would have motivated a “normally law-abiding person” to commit it. Sonoma County entrapment laws follow California’s statewide entrapment laws, as entrapment laws are uniformly observed and enforced at the state level and laws do not differ between counties.

The basic rule of entrapment (California Penal Code 647a) is that to qualify as a defense, the police have to actually plant the idea of the crime in your head.  They must do this by engaging in some type of enticement.  One of the ways this is done is to make the reward so lucrative the police essentially overcome your free will.  This can also be accomplished if the defendant is in an especially vulnerable position.  Entrapment can be a complete defense to charges of wrongdoing.

One of the biggest elements that will distinguish a valid entrapment defense from what is not entrapment is the element of predisposition. If a person is predisposed, has the inclination to engage in certain kinds of behavior, there is a weak argument in favor of entrapment. The Supreme Court ruling in Matthew v. United States (485 U.S. 58 (1988)) determined that entrapment will only be successful in cases where there is a lack of predisposition on behalf of the person being charged. If the government can establish that the person trying the entrapment defense was predisposed to commit the unlawful act then he or she will not be able to use the defense successfully. It won’t be entrapment when the person is already willing to commit a crime and the law enforcement officer merely provides the opportunity to do so.

State laws vary, but in general, there are two ways to prove entrapment:

  • By proving the defendant would not have committed the crime, but for the undue persuasion or fraud of a government agent, or
  • By proving that a government agent encouraged the crime in such a way that it created a risk that a person not inclined to commit the crime would commit it.

Prosecutors can counter an entrapment defense by showing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was predisposed to commit the criminal act before government agents gave him the idea.  This is typically proven by showing the defendant’s involvement in prior criminal conduct similar to the crime he’s now charged with.

Entrapment is most often claimed in government sting operations that involve drug dealing, bribery, or sex offenses, but it depends on the circumstances.  An experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Paul Lozada we can help determine if entrapment should be a part of your defense strategy.

In California, the objective test is used to determine entrapment. The theory here is that the entrapment defense was created in order to impose responsible limitations on the actions of government agents in investigating and prosecuting criminal behavior.  With this test, the courts scrutinize the level of government involvement in the criminal actions to determine if the officers acted in such a way that they would, in a usual case, affirmatively create crime where none would have existed without their actions. The individual state of mind of the defendant is not material and the term objective is used.

In California, entrapment is a defense if conducted by law enforcement agents that would likely induce a normally law-abiding person to commit a crime induced the defendant to commit a charged crime.  The defendant has the burden of proving entrapment by a preponderance of the evidence.  Law enforcement agents are allowed to provide an opportunity for the commission of a crime, but they cannot induce people to commit crimes by engaging in overbearing conduct such as badgering, coaxing or cajoling, importuning, or other acts likely to induce a normally law-abiding person to commit a crime.

If you feel you were a victim of an entrapment case and would like to learn more about California entrapment laws or seek legal defense, contact an experienced Santa Rosa Criminal Defense Attorney at the Law Office of Paul Lozada today at (707) 636-3272.  We are located in Santa Rosa and serve all of Sonoma County.