Seventh Circuit Overturns Conviction in Fake Stash House Case


In a decision issued yesterday, the Seventh Circuit held that the defendant in a fake “stash house robbery” case was entitled to present an entrapment defense to the jury. The case came from what was essentially a set-up by the government: they created a fake stash house, and used a paid informant to recruit the defendant as part of a crew to rob the house.

Prior to the case going to trial, the judge ruled that the defendant could not present the defense of entrapment, holding that there was not enough evidence to show the government induced the crime, or that the defendant lacked the predisposition to commit it.

To use an entrapment defense, the defendant has to who two things:

  1. That he lacked the predisposition to commit the crime; and
  2. He would not have attempted to commit the crime without the government inducing him into committing it.

It’s important to note that the Seventh Circuit didn’t rule that the defendant was entrapped, just that he should have been able to argue to the jury that he was entrapped. From the opinion:

Here, Mayfield proffered enough evidence to justify giving the issue to the jury. He provided some facts showing that he was not predisposed to commit the charged crimes prior to being approached by the informant, and he narrated a story of substantial government inducement going beyond the mere offer of a chance to rob a stash house. His story may be false or unpersuasive, but that’s for the jury to decide. The district court erred by crediting the government’s evidence over Mayfield’s and precluding the entrapment defense before trial.
We vacate the judgment and remand for a new trial.