Undercover law enforcement officers and civilian confidential informants (CIs) often work to get evidence on those they suspect to be engaged in criminal activity. Sometimes they’ll infiltrate a group under the guise of wanting to be part of the criminal activity. Other times, it’s as simple as getting someone on tape talking about their involvement in this activity or even leading law enforcement to the person so they can catch them in a criminal act.
Confidential informants are recruited to cooperate with law enforcement to help them get evidence on suspected offenders. Often, they agree to do this in exchange for getting charges against them dropped or getting a lesser charge.
When someone learns that one or more people they trusted were working to build a case against them, they may claim that they were “entrapped” into committing a crime they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Law enforcement officers know and are supposed to abide by the law so that they don’t entrap someone into committing a crime. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that some don’t get overzealous in the quest to catch suspected criminals. CIs are even more likely to cross the line into entrapment since they rarely have law enforcement training.
How does New Jersey law define entrapment?
Under New Jersey law, a law enforcement professional or someone working for them “perpetrates an entrapment if for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of an offense, he induces or encourages and, as a direct result, causes another person to engage in conduct constituting such offense….” This involves one or both of the following:
“Making knowingly false representations designed to induce the belief that such conduct is not prohibited.”
“Employing methods of persuasion or inducement which create a substantial risk that such an offense will be committed by persons other than those who are ready to commit it.”
If you believe you were the victim of entrapment, it’s crucial to provide the details to your legal team so that they can determine whether that’s a valid defense and work to make the case. Even if you weren’t “entrapped” as the law defines it, you may have other potential defenses. That’s why having experienced legal guidance is crucial.