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Are Speed Traps Entrapment?Some time ago, we discussed some valid defenses to traffic tickets, and some that are, well, invalid. More and more people come to me saying that speed traps are a form of entrapment. While there is some resemblance, the defense fails.

Some speed traps are illegal in Kern County by statute. VC 40802 basically prohibits sudden and unjustified changes in the speed limit, and some other common speed traps. But it is legal for officers to conceal themselves around corners and under overpasses, and use radar and laser to try and catch speeders. Such tactics are certainly designed to catch drivers by surprise, but they are not illegal under the doctrine of entrapment.

Entrapment has basically two components: government inducement of the crime and the defendant's lack of predisposition. Some people are old enough to remember the John DeLorean trial, which was in August 1984 (30 years ago next month). The government arrested the automaker following a sting operation, involving a cocaine sale. DeLorean successfully proved the two elements of the entrapment defense:

Contrary to some people's belief, a road that begs to be driven fast is not entrapment. Notorious speeding spots, such as the long straight stretch of road on Hwy 58 near the bottom of the hill coming from Mojave into Bakersfield, may arguably be government inducement. After all, you aren't human unless you feel like letting it rip a bit when traveling through the desert. It's almost impossible to maintain the speed limit, especially if you're driving a tractor-trailer or other large commercial vehicle on the gradual downhill. But, legally speaking, there is no inducement in this situation.

There are a lot of very good defense to speeding tickets, but entrapment isn't one of them.

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