What is Entrapment?

What is Entrapment?

Entrapment is considered to be tricking or coercing someone into committing a crime to secure their prosecution for that crime.

Is entrapment a valid defence to a crime?

While entrapment is regularly used as a defence in other countries, such as the United States, it is not considered a complete defence in Australia. Basically, to apply entrapment as a full substantive defence is to say that the defendant is lacking in free will when tricked or coerced into committing the crime. It’s a pretty high bar.

Although not considered a complete defence in Australia, it has been noted in some Australian cases that if the circumstances surrounding a case lead the court to believe that the individual only committed the offence because of the involvement or illegal conduct of the police, the court should decide on the individual’s innocence or guilt.

Entrapment in Australia

A case that dealt with entrapment as a concept is Ridgeway v The Queen where John Ridgeway received drugs that had been brought into the country by an Australian Federal Police (AFP) informant with AFP knowledge.

Ultimately, the court decided that because Ridgeway voluntarily committed the crime and he clearly had the intent to commit the act, he did not have a defence of entrapment.

While Ridgeway was found guilty of this criminal act regardless of inducement by the AFP, it was found that the AFP had also committed a serious offence against the Customs Act.

In another case, R v James WARD, Mr Ward and his brother were being obstructed by an unmarked police car while riding their motorbikes. The police officers waved them around and over double white lines and then charged them with a traffic violation, which they contested and won. In this case, the Magistrate stated that on the evidence the police officer had some influence on the actions of the Mr Ward and his brother and they would not have committed the offence if not for the actions of the police.

In Australia, entrapment as a defence hinges on the intent of the individual to commit a crime. If a person committed a crime of their own free will with deliberate intent they won’t have a defence of entrapment – that’s even if the police commit a crime themselves in coercing someone to commit a crime.

If you believe that the police have tricked or coerced you into committing a criminal offence that you wouldn’t have committed had it not been for their involvement, you should speak with a criminal lawyer.

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