Dateline: December, 2007, Issue 1

How do jurors respond to an entrapment defense?

One way to respond to criminal charges is by claiming that a defendant was induced to engage in illegal behavior by law enforcement.

Borgida and Park (1988) found that jurors have difficulty understanding judges' instructions on the entrapment defense, and rely mostly on evidence of the defendant's past criminal conduct to reach verdicts.

Lewis (1997) explored the role a defendant's past criminal conduct in an entrapment defense drug case as well as the amount of money an undercover officer offered a suspected drug dealer for drugs and the number of refusals to sell the drugs on the part of the defendant. This research found that:

An entrapment defense is most effective when (a) defendants lack a prior criminal record and refuse multiple times before being enticed, and (b) jurors are informed about the law and oriented toward due process rights. An entrapment defense is least effective when (a) defendants have a prior criminal record and agree with law enforcement's first enticement, and (b) jurors are uninformed about entrapment and oriented toward crime control.

Source Borgida, E. & Park, R. (1988). The entrapment defense: Juror comprehension and decision making. Law and Human Behavior, 12, pp. 19-40.

Source Lewis, E. W. (1997). A social psychological investigation of legal entrapment. Dissertations Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 58(1-B), p. 0458.