Government Entrapment of Citizens

Posted by Keith Hall | Apr 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

The recent headline of the Kansas City Star was "FBI undercover stings foil terrorist plots — but often plots of the agency’s own making".  The paper went on to say that:

According to a review of several recent terrorism cases investigated by the FBI in Kansas and Missouri. The most sensational plots invoking the name of the Islamic State or al-Qaida here were largely the invention of FBI agents carrying out elaborate sting operations on individuals identified through social media as being potentially dangerous.

In fact, in terrorism investigations in Wichita, at Fort Riley and last week in Kansas City, the alleged terrorists reportedly were unknowingly following the directions of undercover FBI agents who supplied fake bombs and came up with key elements of the plans.

“What I get concerned about is where the plot is being hatched by the FBI,” said Michael German, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and former FBI agent. “There has been a clear effort to manufacture plots.”

Law enforcement has increasingly used undercover agents and informants to develop such cases in recent years, especially against people suspected of being inspired by the Islamic State.

We are also seeing this occur in sex crimes investigations, where police officers will place an ad on Backpage.com or Craigslist.com, often in the "men seeking women" section.  

The police officers will advertise as woman over 18, and when contacted will offer to provide sex services for money.  Then after further communication, they will inform the person they are conversing with that they are really a minor and not 18.  

If the person decides to go forward with the meeting, they are usually arrested and charged with either Commercial Sex Abuse of a Minor (previously known as Patronizing a Juvenile Prostitute), or Communications with a Minor for Immoral Purposes.  Both of these crimes are felony sex offenses, in most circumstances.

Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to offer an "entrapment" defense.  RCW 9A.16.070
defines entrapment as:


(1) In any prosecution for a crime, it is a defense that:

(a) The criminal design originated in the mind of law enforcement officials, or any person acting under their direction, and
(b) The actor was lured or induced to commit a crime which the actor had not otherwise intended to commit.

(2) The defense of entrapment is not established by a showing only that law enforcement officials merely afforded the actor an opportunity to commit a crime.

The lawyers at Newton & Hall can assist you in determining if an entrapment defense is applicable in your case.  

About the Author

Keith Hall

Keith is our firm's lead criminal defense attorney.

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