One of the defenses potentially available to the defendant in a criminal case before a New Jersey court is entrapment. Simply put, entrapment occurs when law enforcement causes a person to commit a crime that they would have done otherwise. This includes tricking or convincing someone to break the law, such as an undercover officer posing as a drug dealer persuading someone to purchase cocaine from them, then arresting the person.
However, in the Garden State, DWI is technically a traffic offense, not a crime. That means that some defenses available to criminal defendants are not available to you if you are charged with drinking and driving. Entrapment is one such defense that a DWI defendant cannot claim in New Jersey.
‘Quasi-entrapment’ defense considered
In 1992, the state supreme court considered whether a defense of “quasi-entrapment” could be claimed in a DWI case. The case involved a man who attended a wedding reception at a restaurant. By the time he left, the man was intoxicated, but he had arranged for a designated driver and for two brothers to drive his pickup truck home for him.
In the parking lot, the brothers got into a physical fight. Police responded to the scene and restrained one of the brothers. The man who owned the truck asked the officer not to treat his friend so roughly. Another officer, nightstick in hand, repeatedly ordered the man to leave, saying, “Get in the truck and get out of here or you’re going too,” which the man took to mean he would be arrested if he did not obey.
The man got into his truck and tried to drive off but immediately backed into a police vehicle. Police arrested him and charged him with DWI. Later, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that, while his arrest seemed unfair, the defendant had not shown that the police had abused their power, which is a necessary element of an entrapment defense.
Don’t give up
Just because you cannot claim the police entrapped you does not mean you have no way of defending yourself against a DWI charge. A consultation with a DWI defense attorney is a good idea before you make any decisions about pleading guilty.