There are some common misconceptions about entrapment. People often know that this is illegal, but they simply don’t know exactly what it looks like in practice. They may think that getting busted by an undercover agent is automatically entrapment, for instance, because they did not know that the person was a police officer or a detective. However, undercover work is very legal.
So, what is entrapment?
The law prohibits officers from coming up with a criminal plan, implanting the idea of that activity in “an innocent person’s mind” and then getting them to commit the crime solely for the purpose of arresting them.
In other words, if you never would have committed a crime without the interference of the government agents, you can argue that they turned you into a criminal just for the sake of arresting you on criminal charges. The role of the government, when it comes to arrests, is to stop criminal action that is already happening. They’re not supposed to entice or coerce people into breaking the law in the first place.
This is why an undercover officer can offer to buy drugs from a drug dealer and then make an arrest. That person was already selling and just did not know the person to whom they were selling the drugs was a cop. But, if the person isn’t selling drugs, the police cannot come in and convince them to start just so that they can turn around and arrest them.
This can become something of a fine line. If you think that government interference is the only reason that you got arrested and that their actions were illegal, you definitely need to know what legal defense options you have.