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Defense of Excuses

  • Date Submitted: 07/05/2013 05:10 PM
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Criminal Defense Based on Excuses
Kenneth G. Shean
Bellevue University

Often times, defendants admit the actus reus, but deny the concept of mens rea. They often do this through the use of defenses based on excuse. This paper will provide an overview of the entrapment excuse. It will discuss a legal case that pertains to this type of defense, Jacobson v United States, and also provide an example of a situation in which the entrapment defense may be plausible.

To satisfy the elements of a particular crime, both the actus reus and the mens rea must be proven.   Actus reus can be described as someone who has actually committed the “act” of a crime while mens rea can be described as a person who has the “intent” to commit a crime, which is often associated with the “mental state” of the defendant. Defendants often admit to the committing of the crime but they deny the perception that they had any intention of committing the crime. They often do this through the use of defenses based on excuse.
One of the many defenses that are based on excuse is that of entrapment. Entrapment happens when a law enforcement agency encourages a person to commit a crime that the person wouldn’t have committed on their own. It is based on the belief that law enforcement should not attempt to persuade, normally innocent, people to commit criminal acts.   “A valid entrapment defense has two related elements: (1) government inducement of the crime, and (2) the defendant's lack of predisposition to engage in the criminal conduct.” (USDOJ)
Different states, as well as the Federal government, have different provisions for entrapment. Depending on where the case resides and the jurisdiction involved, the defendant may take an affirmative defense. This type of defense allows for the defendant to prove that they were entrapped to commit the crime and then the prosecution must rebut the evidence and prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was not entrapped. In an...


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