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Procedurally, entrapment is an issue of fact for the jury. A defendant is entitled to present the defense at trial if he shows that some evidence supports it. This initial burden is not great; the defendant must produce some evidence from which a reasonable jury could find government inducement and lack of predisposition. If he can make this showing, the court must instruct the jury on entrapment and the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was predisposed to commit the charged crime, or alternatively (but less commonly), that there was no government inducement. When the issue is raised before trial on the government's motion to preclude the defense, the court must accept the defendant's factual proffer as true and not weigh it against the government's evidence.
Defendant was indicted for conspiring with a coworker and a drug courier to rob a stash house controlled by the courier's suppliers. The conspiracy was a setup; the drug courier was an undercover government agent and the coworker was an informant. At his trial, defendant wanted to present a defense of entrapment, but the government opposed it and moved in limine to preclude the defense, arguing that there was not enough evidence to show that the government induced the crime or that the defendant lacked the predisposition to commit it. Defendant responded with a narrative of the informant's persistent campaign to secure his participation in the stash-house robbery and his repeated resistance to the scheme. The district court granted the government's motion and barred the defense. The jury, uninstructed on the entrapment issue, convicted defendant of several federal crimes stemming from the conspiracy. Defendant appealed.
Under the circumstances, was the defendant entitled to an entrapment jury instruction?
The judgment was vacated. The court held that the district court erred by crediting the government's evidence over defendant's and precluding an entrapment defense before trial because defendant proffered enough evidence to justify giving the issue to the jury; he provided some facts showing that he was not predisposed to commit the charged crimes prior to being approached by an informant, and he narrated a story of substantial government inducement going beyond the mere offer of a chance to rob the stash house.