Entrapment As A Defense To Drug Charges
When the police improperly induce a defendant to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed, that is considered entrapment. Under Florida law, both objective and subjective entrapment are possible affirmative defenses to a criminal charge. Objective entrapment focuses on egregious conduct by law enforcement. Subjective entrapment, in contrast, involves an assessment of the defendant’s “predisposition” to commit a particular crime. As an affirmative defense, the defendant bears the burden of proving subjective entrapment by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is lower than the standard required for conviction, i.e., “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Florida Court Rejects Subjective Entrapment Defense in Heroin Trafficking Case
The Florida First District Court of Appeal recently examined a case involving the use of subjective entrapment as a defense. In Hall v. State, law enforcement used a confidential informant to lure the defendant into participating in a drug deal. Prosecutors later charged the defendant with drug trafficking in heroin. At trial, the defense argued subjective entrapment.
The defendant testified that while he used heroin, he was not a dealer. Indeed, he never possessed more heroin than necessary for his personal use. He also had no prior felony record. But at the time of his arrest, he was unemployed, and he said that the confidential informant’s offer of money was what convinced him to participate in the drug deal.
The jury heard other evidence, however, suggesting the defendant was more cognizant of the heroin trade than he let on. For instance, prosecutors showed the jury a surveillance recording of the deal arranged between the confidential informant and the defendant. During this meeting, the defendant demonstrated knowledge of the local “market” prices for heroin and what the court later described as “other basics of the heroin trade.”
The jury ultimately rejected the subjective entrapment defense and found the defendant guilty. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial judge should have acquitted him as a matter of law because he proved subjective entrapment. The First District disagreed and upheld the defendant’s conviction. The appellate court said the trial judge properly allowed the jury to decide if the defendant met his burden of proof with respect to the entrapment defense. Critically, that included resolving the disputed evidence with respect to the defendant’s “predisposition,” or lack thereof, to commit the alleged crime. If there had been no factual dispute, the First District said, then it would have been proper for the judge to decide the issue as a matter of law.
Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Jose Baez Today
This decision should not be read to mean that an entrapment defense can never succeed. But you have to understand going into a trial that merely arguing, “The police set me up!” is not going to get you off. The use of confidential informants and arranged buys are quite common in drug cases. That is why you need to work with an experienced Orlando drug crimes lawyer when facing serious charges like trafficking. Contact the Baez Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our criminal defense team.