Entrapment Cases with Non-Biological Entities as a Decoy

One of the more common issues about arrests in Las Vegas is the question of entrapment. Entrapment aims to capture a suspect in the act in order to firmly establish his or her guilt. Ideally this will help law enforcement catch actual threats to public safety. In most cases, however, entrapment instead coerces a suspect to commit an act that exacerbates his offenses.

Many questions have been raised in the past regarding methods relating to entrapment. Legal experts question the use of deception and coercion to entice an individual to commit a crime. There have been protests over how undercover police officers would use illicit methods to make a person commit a crime. While efforts are underway to keep such operations within acceptable legal limits, new angles to the entrapment problem continue to rise that defense lawyers must take note of.

A False Victim

Recently, the Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide section captured a suspect for the killing of two homeless men over the past few months. The officers credit extensive surveillance efforts to catch the culprit before he can proceed to killing more homeless individuals in the downtown area. They also employed what they described as ‘out-of-the-box’ methods to ensure the capture of the culprit in the act.

However, observers note the unusual method taken to conduct the capture. The officers laid out a dummy in the site of the previous murders, and waited for the suspect to return and ‘kill’ his next victim. A problem then arises, namely factual impossibility; charging the suspect with attempted murder requires an actual victim and not a mannequin decoy. Additionally, prosecutors need to prove that there was an intent to kill on the part of the defendant in order for the prosecution to move forward.

An Unusual Situation

Sting operations with decoys are more commonly associated with drug busts and pandering-related crimes, where officers pose either as pimps, dealers, or prospective customers in order to catch suspects. In some cases it has also been used to catch ground-level theft in sprawling urban centers throughout the city. The use of a decoy in cornering and capturing a suspected murderer is highly unusual, and quite controversial. The issue of factual impossibility makes it difficult to prove the defendant’s guilt, considering the ‘victim’ was not alive to begin with. This puts the method employed into question, leaving the officers open to an entrapment complaint.

Another primary issue is the need to prove intent to kill. Even if they manage to go around the fine line of factual impossibility, they still have the burden of proving that the defendant intended to kill more victims. The defendant has confounded prosecutors by telling them he continued bludgeoning the decoy even if he knew it was a mannequin. While his statement cannot be verified at the current stage of the investigation, it casts doubt on any chances of conviction, and further makes the capture look like an entrapment attempt.

A Classic Case Study

This dummy murder victim case is a good point of study for defense attorneys as they review the points for entrapment. Decoy operators coercing targets are common, but the introduction of a dummy or mannequin to catch a suspect brings a new angle to the situation. It can easily weaken the prosecution’s charges thanks to technicalities, although that only works in a case to case basis.

The usage of mannequins to catch a suspected criminal in the act raises new questions about legalities and proper procedure when it comes to sting operations. How can they prove murderous intent with a non-living entity? Does affirmative defense still apply when the victim is non-existent? Is there even a case when the only lead is the defendant attempting to kill, rob or rape a dummy?

 

 

Entrapment with the use of a non-living entity may seem like an absurd scenario out of fiction, but it has happened in Las Vegas, and it has sent legal experts talking. Only time will tell how this will affect entrapment situations and cases in the near future.