Can a Civilian Entrap Someone? A Legal Guide

Entrapment is a defense to criminal charges that arises when a government agent induces someone to commit a crime they would not otherwise commit.

A person being arrested
Police entrapment

But what if the person who lures the defendant into committing a crime is not a government agent, but a private citizen?

Can a civilian entrap someone?

This article will explore the legal implications of this question and provide some FAQs for further clarification.

What is Entrapment?

Entrapment is a legal doctrine that prevents the government from prosecuting someone for a crime that the government induced them to commit.

The rationale behind this defense is that the government should not be in the business of creating criminals, but rather of preventing and punishing crime.

Entrapment is based on the interaction between the government agent and the defendant prior to or during the alleged crime.

How to Prove Entrapment?

To prove entrapment, the defendant must show two things:

1.The government agent induced or persuaded them to commit the crime, and

2.They were not predisposed to commit the crime before the government’s involvement.

The first element requires evidence of coercion, threats, harassment, fraud, or other overbearing tactics by the government agent.

The second element requires evidence of the defendant’s character, background, and prior criminal history.

The burden of proof is on the defendant to establish entrapment by a preponderance of the evidence.

Can a Civilian Entrap Someone?

Entrapment is a defense that only applies to government agents, such as police officers, FBI agents, or prosecutors.

A private citizen cannot entrap someone, even if they use the same methods as a government agent.

This is because entrapment is a leash intended to curb the abuse of power by the government, not by private individuals.

However, this does not mean that a private citizen can induce someone to commit a crime without any consequences.

Depending on the circumstances, a private citizen who lures someone into committing a crime may be liable for:

Can a Civilian Entrap Someone?

1.Aiding and abetting the crime, which means providing assistance or encouragement to the principal offender.

2.Conspiracy, which means agreeing with one or more persons to commit a crime.

3.Solicitation, which means requesting or urging someone to commit a crime.

4.Civil damages, which means compensating the victim or the state for the harm caused by the crime.

FAQs

Can a civilian act as an informant for the government and entrap someone?

Yes, a civilian can act as an informant for the government and entrap someone, as long as the government agent supervises and controls the informant’s actions.

The informant is considered an extension of the government agent, and the same rules of entrapment apply.

Can a civilian pose as a minor online and entrap someone for soliciting a minor?

No, a civilian cannot pose as a minor online and entrap someone for soliciting a minor, unless they are working with the government.

A civilian who does this may be guilty of impersonation, fraud, or defamation, and may also face civil lawsuits from the person they entrapped.

Can a civilian hire a private investigator to entrap someone for cheating on their spouse?

No, a civilian cannot hire a private investigator to entrap someone for cheating on their spouse.

A civilian who does this may be guilty of invasion of privacy, harassment, or emotional distress, and may also face civil lawsuits from the person they entrapped.

Conclusion

Entrapment is a defense that only applies to government agents who induce someone to commit a crime they would not otherwise commit.

A civilian cannot entrap someone, even if they use the same methods as a government agent.

However, a civilian who induces someone to commit a crime may face criminal or civil liability for their actions.

If you have been accused of a crime that you believe was the result of entrapment, you should consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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