The Entrapment Defense in Federal Court

          In the case of United States v. Francis, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit stated that the defense of entrapment consists of the following two elements:

 

          1.  Government inducement of the crime; and

 

          2.  A lack of predisposition on the part of the defendant to commit the crime.

 

          But what exactly constitutes "inducement," and what constitutes a "lack of predisposition"?  It was these two issues that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals addressed in the Francis case.

 

           In that case, Henry Francis and another individual named Green were originally arrested for selling crack cocaine.  Francis then decided to hire a Jamaican named "Mauler" to kill the prosecutor, the investigating officer, and a confidential informant.  Francis later changed plans and decided to have some friends of his who were located in Jamaica carry out the murders.  Francis asked Green to help him acquire passports for the Jamaicans.  In an effort to help himself out with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Green told the F.B.I. what Francis had asked him to do.  Green also gave Francis the telephone number of an individual who was actually an undercover detective named Archie.  Green told Francis that Archie had provided Green with false documents in the past and that he might be able to help Francis obtain the passports he needed.

 

          Over the next two months, Francis and Archie had approximately twenty telephone conversations during which Archie agreed to provide Francis with four passports costing a total of $2,000.00.  Archie also offered to provide the Jamaican assassins with guns. 

 

          As a result of his conversations with Green and Archie, Francis was eventually charged with and convicted of conspiring to murder a federal official engaged in the performance of his official duty as well as murder for hire.  On appeal, Francis argued that the prosecution did not prove that he was predisposed to commit murder.

 

          The Eleventh Circuit rejected Francis's argument for the following reasons:

 

  • It was Francis who first brought up the subject of murdering the three individuals;

 

  • It was Francis who attempted to hire Mauler to carry out the assassinations;

 

  • Before Francis was introduced to Archie, Francis contacted the Jamaicans about performing the murders;

 

  • Francis asked Green to get passports for the Jamaicans; and

 

  • Francis asked Green to take pictures of one of the intended targets if he were released on bond.

 

          The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals concluded by stating:

 

          "The evidence supports the conclusion that the government did not implant in Francis's mind the disposition to murder [the three individuals].  Although Green and Archie assisted Francis, and Archie offered his services as an assassin, the government did not initiate the assassination plot.  Rather, the government merely provided Francis with a method of accomplishing the crime.  The fact that [government agents] merely afford opportunities or facilities for the commission of the offense does not defeat the prosecution.  Artifice and stratagem may be employed to catch those engaged in criminal enterprises."

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