Understanding Entrapment: A Legal Perspective

Entrapment is a fascinating legal concept that often sparks debates and discussions.

In Canada, it plays a crucial role in criminal law, safeguarding the rights of individuals accused of crimes.

a person being arrested by police
police entrapment

Let’s delve into the intricacies of entrapment, exploring what it is, how it works, and the frequently asked questions surrounding this topic.

READ MORE: Does a Plea Bargain Mean Guilty? Everything You Need To Know

What is Entrapment?

Entrapment refers to the action of inducing someone to commit a crime due to unfair law enforcement practices like persuasion, trickery, or fraud.

Essentially, it occurs when the police provoke, entice, or coerce an individual into committing an offense they would otherwise have been unlikely to commit.

Establishing an Entrapment Defense

To establish an entrapment defense, the defendant must prove one of the following probabilities:

1.Lack of Reasonable Suspicion

The police officer provides the accused an opportunity to commit a crime without having a reasonable suspicion that the appellant has already been involved in a criminal act.

2. Bona Fide Inquiry

The police officer provides the accused an opportunity to commit a crime without acting pursuant to a bona fide inquiry.

3.Persuasion Beyond Opportunity

The police officer goes beyond providing the accused with an opportunity and persuades the appellant to commit a crime.

Burden of Proof

Yes, the onus of establishing the defense of entrapment falls on the defendant.

They must demonstrate that one of the above scenarios occurred, proving that entrapment took place.

Limitations to the Defense

While entrapment is a powerful defense, it has its limitations:

1.Involvement of Police Agents

Entrapment must always involve police agents or the police.

You cannot argue that you were persuaded into committing a crime by a private individual.

2.Excluded Offenses

Some offenses, such as those involving violence, physical harm, or killing, cannot be defended using entrapment.

3.Extradition Cases

The defense of entrapment cannot be utilized as an argument related to extradition to a foreign country.

Changing Rules in High Crime Areas

In areas where the police reasonably suspect criminal activities, they can engage a stranger in a conversation about a possible crime to arrest them later without having a reasonable doubt about that individual committing a felony.

The Two Tests for Entrapment

Courts have developed two tests to determine whether entrapment occurred:

1.Subjective Test

Requires that a law enforcement official created the intent to commit the crime in the defendant’s mind.

The defendant must not have been inclined to commit the crime before being lured into it.

Subjective because it focuses on what actually persuaded the defendant.

2. Objective Test

A more modern interpretation.

Considers the law enforcement official’s conduct.

Asks whether their actions would cause a normally law-abiding person to commit the crime.

The Courts’ View of Entrapment

The purpose of allowing an entrapment defense is to discourage law enforcement from inducing individuals who wouldn’t normally commit crimes.

Here’s an example scenario:

Amelia’s Dilemma

Amelia’s friend, Stephanie, convinces her to carry a bag of marijuana to the park for someone named Robert.

A police officer, posing as Robert, exchanges money for the drugs, leading to Amelia’s arrest.

In this case, entrapment did not occur because the officer merely intercepted the sale; Amelia wasn’t talked into selling drugs by the police.

FAQs About Entrapment

Is Entrapment Illegal?

Entrapment lies in a gray area. While not illegal, it’s also not considered a crime.

Police officers won’t be prosecuted for it, but defense attorneys can use it to their clients’ advantage.

What’s the Supreme Court’s Take?

The Supreme Court defines entrapment as inducing an offense without reasonable suspicion or acting beyond providing an opportunity.

If law enforcement goes beyond providing an opportunity and actively induces the crime, entrapment occurs.

When to Raise the Entrapment Defense

The defense of entrapment should be raised at an appropriate moment during the trial.

It’s essential to navigate this strategically with legal counsel.


Entrapment remains a dynamic area of Canadian criminal law, balancing the need for law enforcement with the protection of individual rights.

Understanding its nuances empowers both defendants and legal professionals in the pursuit of justice.

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