Police officers in New Jersey are allowed to use many types of deception to affect a lawful arrest. Officers may also make false statements about factual matters if such statements are necessary for affecting the arrest. Nevertheless, New Jersey law places a strict limit on statements that officers may make to a suspect.
A police officer may not make false statements to encourage a person to commit a crime that the suspect was not considering. This conduct is called “entrapment,” and, if proved, it can lead to the dismissal of all charges against the defendant.
The elements of an entrapment are (1) a false statement by a police officer or person working with a police officer and (2) the statement causes conduct constituting a criminal offense. The law specifies two kinds of false statements that constitute entrapment. The first type is a statement intended to convince the potential defendant that the conduct is not prohibited.
The second type of misrepresentation is a statement or inducement that creates a substantial risk that an offense will be committed by persons other than those who are prepared to commit it. Entrapment is not available as a defense to a criminal charge if an element of the crime in question is conduct causing or threatening bodily injury to anyone other than the person perpetrating the entrapment.
The prosecutor’s response
One persuasive rebuttal to an allegation of entrapment is evidence of the defendant’s predisposition to commit a similar crime. Such evidence may consist of evidence of a prior conviction for a similar crime, the defendant’s reputation for engaging in criminal activity, or proof that an ordinary person would not have succumbed to a similar temptation. The defendant relying on the entrapment defense must prove by evidence that the officer’s behavior directly caused the defendant to commit the crime in question.
The jury must decide whether the prosecution has proved the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt; if so, the jury must then decide whether the defendant has proved that entrapment exists by way of the evidence.
Valuable advice from a criminal defense attorney
Anyone charged with a crime in a situation where a police officer attempted to persuade the person to commit the crime for which the person has been charged wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney about the utility of the entrapment defense.