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Government Entrapment Can Lead to Unjust Sex Crime Charges

November 16, 2015 | Written by Dan Margolis

Police officers are not always easily identifiable by a uniform and badge. Sometimes, the person encouraging you to commit a crime may be a cop, or working with the police.

Undercover sting operations are a regular part of police work in Ohio, especially when it comes to arresting people for solicitation of prostitution. However, the police’s ability to tempt people into attempting solicitation is limited by the entrapment defense.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considered to have first developed this important limitation on police power in Sorrells v. U.S. back in 1932. In that ruling, the Court defined entrapment as when a crime is committed “by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion or fraud of the officer.”

To determine whether entrapment occurred, the Court set out a two-part test. First is whether the government induced the crime. Second, whether the defendant was predisposed to engaged in the criminal conduct. In the context of solicitation, say the defendant was not looking to solicit a prostitute, but a police officer in disguise as a sex worker induced him to agree to exchange sex for payment — only for the handcuffs to clamp down on the defendant’s wrists.

This could lead to the defendant successfully invoking the entrapment defense in court. The principle behind this that people should not be punished for crimes the government tricked or forced them to commit. Someone arrested on solicitation or similar charges should discuss their case with a defense attorney as soon as possible.

Source: § 90:2.Subjective test, Baldwin’s Oh. Prac. Crim. L. § 90:2 (3d ed.)

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