Local News

November 26, 2012

Entrapment or crime prevention?


Defenses in court

Poston said the task force to date has always done a good job of “building their cases such that we have obtained guilty verdicts in every case that has gone to trial thus far.”

“There are two things we have to prove,” Poston said of winning a case in court, “that the defendant intended to commit the underlying crime (child molestation, etc.), and that he took a substantial step towards completion of that crime.”

Entrapment is a common defense, as is the idea the defendant lacked criminal intent or abandoned the crime.

“Entrapment occurs when the idea for the crime originates with the law enforcement, which then uses undue influence to cause the offender to commit the crime,” Poston said. “In the cases we’ve handled, the members of the task force have always done a good job to show that the idea originated with the offender and that they provided numerous opportunities for him to change his mind and not go through with the act. The communications leading up to the traveling usually establish intent pretty clearly, so that defense has not worked either.”

Whether any of those defenses will work for Metcalf remains to be seen, of course. Metcalf admits he eventually consented — in writing — to meet the person posing as the undercover officer with the kids. Yet he contends he had no plans to have sex with either child.

“We’ve had one trial based on the abandonment defense,” Poston said. “The law provides that once an attempt has been made to commit a crime, but before the crime is completed, a defendant may abandon the attempt. For this to be a legal defense, however, the abandonment must be based on a legitimate change of heart, not because it appears that he’s about to be caught. The case we tried involved the defendant fleeing from the motel parking lot after he spotted law enforcement and realized that he was walking into a sting operation. That’s not a defense to the crime.”

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