Criminal Defense Law: Entrapment as an Affirmative Defense

A defendant can use an affirmative defense to prove that, while he committed a crime, he cannot be held criminally liable for it. An affirmative defense is a legal justification that excuses the defendant from punishment.

Entrapment is an affirmative defense. Entrapment occurs when a defendant had no intention of committing a crime but was coerced into doing so by a member of a law enforcement or government agency. The law requires the defendant and his legal counsel to provide evidence according to one of two standards to prove entrapment.


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Subjective v. objective standards

U.S. federal courts and the majority of state courts employ the subjective test to determine whether entrapment has taken place. This test focuses more on the defendant’s actions, state of mind, or motivations; and whether she was already predisposed to commit the crime regardless of the police officer’s actions. For a defendant to prove entrapment under the subjective test, the defendant must show that the law enforcement agent forced her to commit a crime she would not have committed without the agent’s inducements.

The handful of states that use the objective test focuses more on the level of inducement that the police officer applied to the defendant. Instead of providing evidence on their motivations and state of mind, defendants must provide evidence that shows that the law enforcement agent’s conduct would have forced even a normally law-abiding person to commit a crime.


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Entrapment example

The defendant is a heroin user with no previous history of dealing drugs. An undercover police officer tries to buy heroin from her. The defendant refuses. The police officer calls and visits the defendant daily for weeks to convince her to sell. Eventually, the officer threatens to report the defendant if she refuses to sell him drugs. After a week, the defendant breaks down and sells the cop heroin.

This scenario can be considered entrapment under both the subjective and objective standards:

Subjective: The defendant had no prior history of selling drugs and had no predisposition to do so.

Objective: The undercover police officer used an excessive level of inducement, using threats and blackmail, to force the defendant to commit the crime.

Proving entrapment can be extremely difficult as defendants have to prove entrapment by a preponderance of evidence while showing they were not predisposed to commit the crime.

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can mean the difference between freedom and incarceration. For more legal discussions, subscribe to this Sheeley Law blog.


Personal Injury Torts: Causes Of Action Besides Negligence

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Personal injury cases are lawsuits that involve claims of injury as a result of a wrongful conduct, usually due to negligence. However, the same case may also be filed even if the injury was not due to negligence. These cases are known as intentional torts, where the defendant acts purposefully to harm the plaintiff. The most common examples are assault, trespass, battery, theft, false imprisonment, and infliction of emotional distress.

A tort within this category may involve a situation wherein the defendant may still be liable to the resulting injury even if he or she did everything possible to zero out the possibility of causing harm. This is possible when engaging in an extremely dangerous activity, even if it is legal and all precautions are taken. Transporting hazardous materials (HAZMAT) and building demolition are typical examples.

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Another common personal injury tort involves injuries caused by defective products, dubbed as product liability cases. Liability in these cases can be imposed based on faulty design and careless distribution of unsafe products. Because these cases frequently involve several plaintiffs, they have the potential to become large class action lawsuits.

Defendants and plaintiffs who wish to win personal injury cases are advised to hire legal counsel, taking into consideration the firm’s reputation and experience. For one, having an attorney will help avoid violating a statute of limitations (missing the deadline for filing the lawsuit), which is always a concern in personal injury cases.

Atty. Ann S. Sheeley graduated magna cum laude from the State University of New York at Albany and is currently practicing personal injury law, criminal defense, and workers’ compensation. For more about her, visit this website.

Misdemeanor Crimes in Rhode Island: Facts on Sentences and Fines

A misdemeanor is a lesser offense that is typically punishable by a a fine or penalty, and/or time in a county jail.  It’s less serious than a felony, but more serious than an infraction.

Most states organize misdemeanor violations into four or five classes, but Rhode Island classifies them into two types: Petty misdemeanors and regular misdemeanors.


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A person convicted of a petty misdemeanor in Rhode Island can face up to six months of prison time and/or a fine of up to $500.  Examples of petty misdemeanors include the following:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Possession of alcohol by a minor
  • Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana
  • Sale, possession, and use of substances that release toxic vapors

Regular misdemeanors, on the other hand, are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and incarceration for a period not exceeding one year.  Examples of regular misdemeanors include the following:

  • Obstruction of justice
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism
  • Simple assault and battery
  • Failure to render assistance to an injured person
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana

Apart from jail time and penalties, some misdemeanor convictions could also result in probation, court-mandated community service, or substance abuse classes.


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Those who are facing petty or regular misdemeanor charges should consult as soon as possible a criminal defense lawyer with experience in Rhode Island law.  A qualified criminal defense lawyer can represent defendants in court and provide valuable legal advice at every step of the process.

The legal team at Sheeley Law is dedicated to providing their clients with rigorous criminal defense representation.  For more articles on Rhode Island law, subscribe to this blog.

Filing a Hit and Run Case: What You Need to Know

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Among personal injury cases, hit and run accidents are the most common. Nevertheless, these cases are often difficult to defend because the person at fault usually is unidentified. Furthermore, the accident victim normally has to undergo medical attention and the claims process.

Involvement in a hit and run accident is necessarily followed by key steps. The first step is to immediately report the incident to the police. In many jurisdictions, the victim has a legal responsibility to contact the police if they become involved in an accident that resulted in any form of injury or property damage (to a certain damage). This police report will help initiate the claims process and also strengthen the legal case filed against the defendant.

Personal injury lawyers also require victims to undergo medical attention. Certain injuries are not self-evident, and medical documents that directly link the accident to a specific injury (or injuries) are necessary for any injury claim.

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Lastly, individuals should be aware that hit and run accident claims are usually processed under the victim’s automotive insurance policy. This is mandatory for many states; however, some areas waive deductibles for these types of accidents. Victims should speak with their injury lawyer to determine coverage in their specific state (these can include medical payments or even collision coverage depending on location). If the driver is identified, the claim is processed under that person’s car insurance coverage.

Sheeley Law specializes in cases dealing with personal injury and workers’ compensation. Follow this Twitter account account for more information on the different types of personal injury claims.

Which is which: The difference between survival action and wrongful death

The days where a personal injury claim dies with the victim are long gone. Various states have passed laws that recognize both survival action and wrongful death claims. These two, although tied together in preserving the rights of the deceased, cover different forms of damages.

The major differences between these two are the key elements probed for the validation of the claim, damages covered if each claim has been proven, and the aspect of distribution of the said damages.

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Key elements

In a wrongful death claim, breach of duty and causation are the burden of proof established throughout the case. The basis of damages to be covered by the claim is the act or lack of action of the entity at fault.

In survival action, the inquisition goes beyond the negligence of duty. Survival action takes into consideration the difficulty experienced by the victim between the accident and death.

Damages covered
Designed as reparation to the family or dependents of the victim, a wrongful death claim covers lost wages, medical expenses, and other financial issues that the death has brought to surviving relatives or dependents.

Meanwhile, survival action doesn’t merely focus on the aftermath of the death. It covers the probable damages that the victim would have been able to fight for if he or she had survived. describes this as “the continuation of tort actions that the victim would have been entitled to raise in life.” In Washington, survival action also considers the expenses incurred by the victim while the person was struggling for life at the hospital, regardless of the duration of the stay.

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Distribution of claims
In wrongful death cases, relatives (immediate or distant), and rightful dependents may receive the settlement in behalf of the victim.

However, in survival action claims, the victim’s estate will be the primary premise for distribution of damages. Only the heir or lawful dependent of the victim will be entitled to the damages recovered, as stipulated by the will of the victim.

Can representatives file for both? This depends on the statute governed by State law. Some states allow the filing of both claims and receiving the compensation for both. However, states like Virginia only allow the representative to recover either of the two.

Sheeley Law, LLC provides representation for the families or dependents of victims of wrongful death. To read more related topics on this legal matter, visit this blog.

Receiving workers compensation for repetitive stress injury

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Workers’ compensation insurance is required for most employees in Rhode Island. It provides benefits for medical care and wage loss due to an injury that occurred at the workplace, such as a construction worker falling from a great height or an engine explosion that injures the mechanic working on it.

Those types of accidents and injuries are only part of the dangers that workers face. Some workers, although far from hazardous work conditions, are also at risk for injuries. Most workplace injuries actually develop over time as a result of minor, repetitive movements. These are called repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) and may develop as a result of actions that aren’t necessarily difficult, physically challenging, or harmful. The trouble is that, when the simple motion is repeated several times frequently over a particular period, the combined effect may take a serious toll on the worker’s health.

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RSIs can leave workers in considerable pain, and the pain may prevent them from performing even routine work tasks and even simple life functions such as moving an injured arm. This leads to a loss of productivity and may require medical attention and some rest to recover completely. Fortunately, recovery from the repetitive stress injuries are is covered under worker’s compensation system.

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Sheeley Law offers free consultation services for workers who have suffered through workplace injuries so that they may fully understand their rights. For more resources on workers’ compensation, subscribe to this Twitter account.

An overview of worker’s compensation

Every employee is protected by a set of rules that safeguards his or her physical and emotional well-being. This includes finding proper compensation when injured during the course of his or her work. Most commonly known as worker’s compensation, this program enacted by the government is a basic right that all employees – particularly those engaged in risky and highly dangerous jobs – have. It states the companies are legally responsible for the welfare of their employees and should something happen to them during the course of their work, employers are required by law to compensate workers properly. This usually is in the form of monetary or medical compensation. The law also has provisions to protect the welfare of the individual’s dependents, should the employee die due to his work.

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It must be noted that each state has their provisions, with federal statutes being limited to federal employees. However, there are still basic guidelines that are followed. The main consideration in a worker’s compensation claim is that the injury (or death) must have been directly caused by the occupation, with the full knowledge of the danger known to the employer. For example, a railroad employee suffers an injury caused by a faulty track, he or she is eligible under the Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA) to file a complaint against his or her employee. It must be proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the employer was either negligent or intentionally involved in the accident.

Establishing legal responsibility is only the first step in a worker’s compensation claim. The attorney, victim, and company, now have to determine the type of compensation the employee will receive. This refers not only to the amount, but how long the payments will be made.

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Learn how to protect your rights in case of injury with the assistance of Sheeley Law, an expert in worker’s compensation. Follow this Google+ page for similar discussions.