There are several defenses a defendant can argue to explain or attempt to justify his or her criminal actions in an effort to resolve a matter in his or her favor. Some defenses are more useful and prevalent than others. One defense rarely used in NC, although it is available, is that of entrapment.
Entrapment is a defense to a crime, which if successfully established, will bar a defendant from being prosecuted for or convicted of a crime. Entrapment is a defense to a crime if law enforcement (a government agent) encourages, entices, or induces a person to commit a crime. This encouragement, enticing, or inducement may occur by persuasion, trickery, or fraud. However, for the defense to be successful the defendant must not have been pre-disposed to commit the crime and the plan or intent must have originated with law enforcement. The Defendant must prove that he or she was in fact entrapped and the defendant must admit to committing the criminal act. In other words, a defendant who has a history of drug use and abuse may not claim entrapment for a new drug offense, because the defendant would be deemed to have been predisposed to commit the crime based on his criminal history.
If a defendant intends to raise the defense of entrapment, the defendant must give notice to the State or opposing party as required by N.C.G.S. § 15A-905 within 20 days after the case has been set for trial or such other time as set by the Court. The notice must contain specific information regarding the nature and extent of the defense.
The Judge may offer the jury an instruction on entrapment, but it is still up to the jury to decide if the defendant was in fact entrapped by law enforcement. If the jury finds such entrapment, the defendant will be acquitted of the crime, but if the defendant’s entrapment defense is not successful, he will be prosecuted and convicted of the crime provided all elements of the underlying crime have been met.