Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
State v. Powell
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Hawaii’s entrapment statute, Hawaii Revised Statutes § 702-237, provides an affirmative defense for a defendant who engages in prohibited conduct because of inducement by a law enforcement officer who creates a substantial risk that the offense will be committed by persons other than those ready to commit it. The Honolulu Police Department decided to conduct several “drunk-decoy” operations in response to elevated instances of theft and robbery. During one of the operations, a police officer was lying on the ground with a paper bag containing a beer bottle and pretending to be drunk. The officer had a wallet, with money exposed, in his back pocket. Laverne Powell (Defendant) walked by the officer, turned back, and stole the wallet from the officer’s pocket. Two undercover officers detained Defendant as she was attempting to leave the area. Defendant was charged with first degree theft. During an evidentiary hearing, Defendant moved for dismissal, arguing that the undisputed facts, as testified to by the officer who organized the operation in question, established entrapment. The court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss with prejudice.
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