We often hear the “bad guy” on television and in movies scream, “this is entrapment” when confronted by police in a sting operation. More often than not, the person who got busted is dead wrong about that entrapment defense. In Illinois, “A person is not guilty of an offense if his or her conduct is incited or induced by a public officer or employee, or agent of either, for the purpose of obtaining evidence for the prosecution of that person. However, this Section is inapplicable if the person was pre-disposed to commit the offense and the public officer or employee, or agent of either, merely affords to that person the opportunity or facility for committing an offense.” There is a sharp distinction in this defense between a police officer instigating the commission of a crime and a police officer merely creating an environment that is conducive to crime related behavior. For instance, buying drugs from a police officer disguised as a drug dealer standing on a corner commonly known, as a place to “score” drugs is not entrapment because the passer-by was going to buy drugs anyway, he just happened to stumble upon the wrong drug dealer. However, a police officer disguised as a drug standing on a corner commonly known, as a place to “score” drugs who says to the passer-by, “hey, you want to buy some drugs?” and that passer-by says, “I wasn’t going to, but if you are selling, why not;” that is entrapment.
In April 2013, an Illinois teen was arrested at O’Hare airport trying to board a plane to Istanbul, Turkey. The teen was arrested by the FBI and charged with aiding a terrorist organization. On its face, there doesn’t seem to be anything at issue with this arrest; in fact, on its face, it should be applauded. However, if you pull back the layers there is an aspect of undue influence by FBI officials with this arrest. First, an undercover agent recruited the suspect to join the terrorist organization. Second, the suspect is connected to 19-year-old Adel Daoud, another possible victim of FBI entrapment arrested after a sting operation in Chicago in September of last year. Again, if the FBI merely created a situation that facilitated this suspect’s pre-disposition for terrorist activity, than he is deserving of whatever sentence he may get. However, if this young suspect was cajoled, encouraged, or influenced by the FBI to begin a lifestyle that he would not have but for the FBI involvement, he has a valid entrapment defense. As we always recommend, be wary of police deception and if you find yourself charged with a crime that stems from involvement with an undercover public official, immediately contact a qualified llinois Criminal Defense Attorney because you may have a valid entrapment defense.