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Does the Defense of Entrapment Apply to My Federal Fraud Charges?


When you are facing criminal charges of any type, whether under Texas state or federal law, you are likely wondering about the types of defenses that may apply to your case. It is important to know that defense strategies should always be closely tailored to the criminal charges you are facing, and to the particular facts surrounding your arrest. Yet there are some common defense strategies that a person might use to fight federal fraud charges and other offenses. One possible defense strategy may be entrapment. Yet the defense of entrapment can be complicated, and it is critical to work with a Texas federal fraud defense attorney to determine whether entrapment may be an applicable defense in your criminal case. In the meantime, our firm can provide you with more information about entrapment more broadly and how it might be a valid defense in a case involving federal fraud charges.

What is Entrapment?

What is entrapment? While the term is often used to describe situations in which undercover law enforcement officials or government agents convince a person to engage in a criminal act, the definition is a bit more specific and complex. The Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII) explains that entrapment is “an affirmative defense in which a defendant alleges that police officers acquired the evidence necessary to commence a criminal prosecution of the defendant by inducing the defendant to engage in a criminal act by which the defendant would not otherwise have committed.” One of the key elements that the prosecution must show in order to defeat an entrapment defense is that the defendant was predisposed to commit the criminal offense at issue.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), entrapment is “a complete defense to a criminal charge, on the theory that Government agents may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person’s mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the Government may prosecute.”

How Does an Entrapment Defense Apply to Federal Fraud Crimes?

Federal fraud offenses typically involve some central elements, including the intention to defraud, and taking steps toward the goal of defrauding, regardless of whether another person or entity actually is successful in defrauding another. How would an entrapment defense be applicable to allegations of fraud under federal law? In short, a defendant may be able to successfully argue that she or he only committed a federal fraud offense because an undercover government agent induced him or her to commit the act, or to take steps toward committing the act.

What is necessary to prove entrapment? The DOJ underscores that “inducement is the threshold issue in the entrapment defense,” and emphasizes that “mere solicitation to commit a crime is not inducement.” To be sure, inducement “requires a showing of at least persuasion or mild coercion.” In general, to have a successful entrapment defense, you would need to prove both of the following:

  • Government agent or actor inducement of the offense; and

  • Defendant lacked the predisposition to engage in criminal conduct.

Without a showing of inducement, the defense will not succeed. However, proving that you were not predisposed to commit the offense is, according to the DOJ, “by far the more important” element of the defense.

Contact a Federal Fraud Defense Lawyer in Dallas

An experienced Dallas federal fraud defense attorney can provide you with more information about entrapment and other possible defense strategies. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC today.