The Law of Police Entrapment: Critical Evaluation and Policy Analysis
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This article provides a critical analysis of the law of police entrapment and proposes a new foundation for this law. The article shows that the ‘shift of scene’ assumption underlies existing and proposed legal tests for the legitimacy of entrapment. According to this assumption, in some identifiable cases the defendant would have committed a similar offence at a different time and location absent police entrapment. In these cases, entrapment is morally and economically insignificant and hence legitimate. Using probabilistic analysis, the article advances the argument that the ‘shift of scene’ assumption is misguided. Entrapment actually changes (usually raises) the probability of commission, and hence also the defendant’s punishment expectancy, in almost all cases. This increase is hard to justify on grounds of justice or on economic grounds. The article then proposes a different basis for the analysis of entrapment, building on the idea of reallocation of burdens: where the defendant creates particularly heavy burdens that go beyond the offence’s harm expectancy, it is justified to increase his punishment expectancy through entrapment. Furthermore, entrapment should be conceptualized as a mitigating factor, thus allowing the courts to ‘correct’ exaggerated or undue increases in the defendant’s punishment expectancy.
KeywordsPolice Intervention Police Action Reference Class Reasonable Doubt Drug Dealer
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