Entrapment occurs when law enforcement tricks you into carrying out a crime you had no preexisting intentions of committing. Although entrapment is illegal and therefore a complete defense to Nevada crimes, it can be difficult to prove because a fine line exists between what constitutes bona fide entrapment and lawful (though unfair) police conduct.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience in persuading prosecutors to reduce or dismiss criminal charges based on an entrapment defense. It's a very technical and complicated issue, so for your convenience we've summarized the basics of Nevada entrapment law below.
What is entrapment in Nevada?
Entrapment is when police lure you into committing a crime that you wouldn't have done but for their enticement. Entrapment is unlawful and serves as an absolute legal defense in Nevada . . . This means that if you're charged with a crime and can show that you were "entrapped," then the case should be dismissed.
Entrapment can theoretically serve as a defense to any crime but most often apply in cases involving violations of drug law, Las Vegas prostitution law, Nevada lewd conduct law, and Clark County child pornography law because law enforcement routinely set up "stings" and use decoy officers to catch suspects for these offenses.
How can I tell if I've been entrapped in Nevada?
The entrapment defense is available only when the police "crossed the line" by engaging in overbearing conduct such as harassment, fraud, threats, pressure or flattery. For example if an undercover cop posing as a drug dealer claims he will hurt you unless you buy some drugs, you can't then be convicted of drug possession because you were "entrapped" into buying them by the cop's threats.
Alternatively, it's not considered entrapment in Nevada when the police simply present you with an opportunity to commit a crime that a reasonable person would be able to resist. For example, it's perfectly legal for a policewoman to dress as a prostitute and proposition potential johns as long as she's not too pushy about it.
It's a huge misconception in Nevada that asking an undercover officer if they're really a cop, and them answering no, is a form of entrapment. Undercover cops are absolutely allowed to lie and claim they're not really officers, and any illegal activity you engage in from then on is still subject to criminal charges.
What are examples of entrapment in Nevada?
- The police pressuring you to commit a crime by offering huge amounts of money or taking you emotional hostage.
- The police harassing or threatening you such as repeatedly contacting you and asking you to commit the crime.
- The police defrauding you by promising that the criminal conduct they want you to engage in is legal.
Entrapment may also apply to situations where a private citizen acting as an agent of the police engages in any of the above conduct.
What are examples of legal police trickery in Nevada?
- The police presenting an opportunity to engage in a crime, such as dressing as a prostitute and lingering at a bar.
- The police initiating the crime, such as possessing drugs and offering to sell them to you.
- The police going undercover, such as a cop dressing as an ordinary citizen and lingering in a public restroom to look out for lewd conduct.
- The police telling you that they are not really cops and that you are not being set up.
Furthermore, the entrapment defense is unavailable in Nevada when a private citizen not acting as an agent of the cop catches you engaging in criminal behavior and then informs the police.
How does the entrapment defense work in Nevada?
Entrapment is an affirmative defense in Nevada. This means that if you get arrested for a crime and you decide to go to trial, you have the initial burden to produce evidence to the court that you were set up to commit the crime (called governmental instigation).
At that point, the burden then shifts to the state to prove that you were predisposed to commit the crime in the first place ... if the state can't show you were predisposed, then the case should be dismissed.
For example if John is arrested for selling marijuana to an undercover officer and he wants to assert the entrapment defense, he would first have to show that the undercover officer approached him to buy the marijuana. At that point, the state would then try to show that John would probably have sold the pot to anyone who asked to buy it . . . if the state can't show John was predisposed to sell the pot, he shouldn't be convicted.
Charged with a crime? Then call us . . .
If after reading this you believe you may have been the victim of police entrapment in Nevada, then please call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to discuss your case for free. If we can show that you were treated unlawfully by law enforcement, we may be able to get your case reduced to a lesser charge or dismissed outright.
- For an overview of California law on this subject, refer to our page on California entrapment laws.