What exactly is entrapment?

Entrapment is a potential defense in a court-martial.  It is a defense when there is evidence that the accused committed the offense charged solely based on the suggestion or criminal design of a government agent, such as, an undercover police officer.  In order to be successful with this defense, it must be shown that the accused in the court-martial does not have a “predisposition” to commit the offense.  In other words, the accused must show that he or she would not normally commit this type of offense without the influence of the agent and never has attempted such an offense in the past.  Additionally, entrapment law is clear that an agent simply affording an accused the opportunity to commit an offense does not amount to entrapment.  Let’s take the example of that seen in a recent Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) case, United States v. Payne.  In this case, the accused servicemember engaged in a series of sexually explicit Internet chats and phone calls with an undercover civilian sheriff’s deputy who the accused believed to be a fourteen-year-old girl named “Marley.”  While he used the defense of entrapment at his court-martial, he was unsuccessful.  While it is not completely clear from his appellate case, the accused was most likely unsuccessful in using the defense of entrapment because the evidence showed that the accused was either predisposed to commit such a crime or that the agent merely provided the accused the “opportunity” to commit the offense and did not design the criminal activity.  Entrapment is certainly a difficult defense to use in a court-martial or on appeal.  However, in an older Air Force case, the Court of Military Appeals (CMA) in United States v. LeMaster, set aside a finding of guilty based on entrapment.   In this case, a female servicemember was tried and found guilty at a court-martial  of attempted possession of cocaine.  However, the only reason she was around to receive any cocaine was because she was in love with another servicemember who was acting as an agent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI).  Without soliciting it, she was given a bit of the cocaine during one of the exchanges in which her boyfriend agent was involved.  The CMA found that because she was not predisposed to the offense and was targeted and induced to accept the drugs by the agent posing as her boyfriend, the defense of entrapment applied.  Entrapment may or may not be available to you as a defense if you or a loved one is facing a court-martial or looking to appeal one.  However, I am familiar with all of the defenses and have the experience to advise you on whether there is a viable defense in your case.  It doesn’t hurt to call, the call is free.  To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

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