Arizona high court keeps limit on entrapment defense

Posted at 5:56 AM, Jun 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-21 08:56:51-04

The Arizona Supreme Court is keeping in place tough limits on when criminal defendants can claim law enforcement officers entrapped them into committing a crime.

In a decision released Monday, the high court said a defendant can't use the defense if he or she doesn't admit the "substantial elements" of the crime at trial. Four of the five justices upheld the interpretation of the state's 1997 entrapment law and earlier decisions requiring the admission.

Justice Clint Bolick disagreed, saying constitutional guarantees against self-incrimination should allow the use of the entrapment defense without an admission. Federal law follows this argument.

The case involved the June 2013 arrest and subsequent conviction of 57-year-old Maverick Gray. He was sitting on a bus bench in Pima County when an undercover officer approached and asked if Gray could help him buy some crack cocaine.  Gray agreed to help the undercover officer buy $20 worth of crack in exchange for a $10 fee.

Gray is serving more than nine years in prison for the crime.