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Law School Case Brief

Beattie v. State - 636 So. 2d 744 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1993)


The Supreme Court of Florida adopted a three-part test to determine if entrapment has occurred. The second question is whether the accused was awaiting a propitious opportunity or was ready and willing, without persuasion, to commit the offense. On the second question, the defendant initially has the burden to establish lack of predisposition. As soon as the defendant produces evidence of no predisposition, the burden shifts to the prosecution to rebut this evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. In rebutting the defendant's evidence of lack of predisposition, the prosecution may make an appropriate and searching inquiry into conduct of the accused and present evidence of the accused's prior criminal history, even though such evidence normally is inadmissible.


In Jan. 1990 defendant Alexander Beattie read an advertisement in a local free shopping publication. The ad, placed by the United State Customs and Border Protection ("Customs"), listed a name and address for a distributor of "hard to find Foreign videos/magazines in Miniature & Young Love." Beattie responded by letter and stated that he was not involved in law enforcement and was interested in movies "with very young people and with Black men, white women." After an exchange of ten letters between Beattie and an undercover customs official, a customs agent telephoned Beattie and arranged a meeting in a parking lot. The purpose of the meeting was to sell Beattie a child pornography videotape, "Sexy Lolita," that Customs previously had seized. Because possession of child pornography was not at that time an offense against the laws of the United States, the customs agent brought the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) into this investigation. The FDLE arrested Beattie after it received his check and delivered the videotape to him in the parking lot. Beattie was convicted in Florida state court for possession of child pornography. Beattie challenged his conviction for possession of child pornography on grounds of entrapment, claiming that the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion to dismiss. 


Was the conviction proper?




The appellate court revered Beattie's conviction for possession of child pornography and remanded the matter to the trial court with directions to dismiss. The court ruled that the prosecution failed to produce evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Beattie was predisposed to commit the offense. To establish entrapment, Beattie was required to satisfy the Munoz three-part test. The court found that by his sworn motion, Beattie satisfied his burden of proving that a government agent induced him to commit the offense of possession of child pornography and that he had no predisposition to commit the crime before the government agent contacted him. 

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