Last week we discussed a disturbing trend in federal law enforcement: the FBI going to great lengths to set up people who may be willing to perform terroristic acts, then busting them on serious federal charges.
We highlighted one case in which FBI agents offered a group of poor black Muslim men $200,000 and access to weapons to perform a terrorist attack. The leader of the group avoided the FBI as long as possible but, when he became unemployed, that money seemed necessary for survival. The men were arrested, facing a minimum sentence of 25 years even though the judge criticized the way the FBI handled the case/
In that case, the men attempted to use entrapment as a defense against the charges. Entrapment occurs when a government official induces someone to commit a crime. Some common examples include prostitution stings in which an undercover agent tries to get someone to solicit them, thinking they are a prostitute. Entrapment can also be a defense in cases of drug crimes when a law enforcement official induces someone to buy drugs.
However, entrapment defenses may fail if the court finds a person was predisposed to commit the crime. For example, if someone has a history of drug use entrapment may not work as a defense against drug charges.
So often in the United States, law enforcement agencies are portrayed as heroes, chasing after bad guys to keep the public safe. However, in cases where the government equips otherwise harmless people with weapons in order to bust them, it is especially important to understand your rights.
Source: FindLaw, “Defending Yourself Against a Criminal Charge“
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