A man working as a teaching assistant at Northview High School and a girl’s travel softball coach has been arrested on one count of attempting to produce child pornography. Investigators say that Jason Ford posed as a college softball recruiter in an attempt to get young women to send him explicit videos. After getting several complaints from students and parents, the FBI orchestrated a sting operation in which one of their own agents posed as a high school softball player. Ford indicated that he could get the young woman a scholarship and eventually mentioned that he would give the fake teen Amazon gift cards if she would, in turn, send him a sexually explicit video.
The court recently denied a defense motion to move the trial into Ford’s hometown citing that it would put an undue burden on him and his family given the long commute. The court rejected the motion and the case will be heard in South Florida.
Entrapment or not Entrapment?
Entrapment is one of those legal concepts that a lot of people know about and few truly understand. Entrapment is a prohibition on certain kinds of inducement to commit a crime. It does not, however, prohibit legal authorities from providing an opportunity to commit a crime. Here, the defendant believed that he was dealing with a young woman who was under the age of 18. Depending on how that interlude went down it may or may not constitute entrapment.
But there are two standards for determining whether or not an interlude constitutes entrapment. The first is known as an “objective standard”. Under the objective standard, jurors are asked to determine whether or not the police officer’s actions were enough to induce an otherwise law-abiding citizen to commit a crime. The second (you guessed it) is known as the subjective standard. The subjective standard asks the jury to determine whether or not the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime.
Different states employ different variations of these two tests.
Florida’s Entrapment Test
Florida has a multi-part version of the objective test. In order to prove entrapment, a defendant must show that:
- Law enforcement encouraged the defendant to participate in a crime so that law enforcement could gain evidence that the defendant committed the crime
- (AND) the defendant engaged in the act as a direct result of that encouragement
- (AND) the people doing the encouraging were either law enforcement officers or confidential informants
- (AND) those who encouraged the crime to take place used methods of persuasion that induced a defendant who was not otherwise likely to commit the crime to commit a crime
- (AND) this individual was not otherwise someone who commits such crimes.
This, of course, is the subjective standard. It asks the jury to speculate on the character of the defendant. What is most interesting about this case is that the defendant is only being charged with the attempt made by the officer, not other instances in which he solicited sexually graphic videos from children. This may be to protect injured parties, but you would think that the state would have more of a case than the one count it itself created.
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