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State v. Hernandez

State v. Hernandez, 2020 UT App 58 (Mortensen, J.)

Criminal

The defendant pulled into a parking lot that was frequented by men seeking prostitutes. He was in his car for less than one minute before an undercover officer approached him and solicited him. They discussed money and sex and agreed to meet in a certain spot. The police arrested the defendant as he drove away from the parking lot. The State charged the defendant with patronizing a prostitute. The defendant moved to dismiss the charge because he was entrapped. The district court granted the motion. The State appealed. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed, holding:

  • Here, the district court incorrectly applied the objective standard. Looking through the lens of an objective standard, courts evaluate whether the methods used by the government created a substantial risk of inducing a person to commit an offense when that person was not otherwise inclined to commit it. Here, an officer posing as a prostitute wearing dingy clothes approached the defendant shortly after the defendant pulled his car into an area known for prostitution. The officer asked the defendant if he was looking for a date, and after the defendant responded affirmatively, the detective proceeded to solicit sex for payment in explicit terms. The detective gave the defendant an opportunity to desist when she denied his first offer. But then the detective accepted his second offer. Under these facts, the Court could not conclude as a matter of law that the government employed prohibited methods of inducement.
  • Under the facts here, an entrapment defense is not sure to leave all reasonable minds with a reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant acted on his own inclination. Instead, the facts shown prove that the government merely afforded the defendant the opportunity to commit the offense.

Read the full court opinion

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