Whitmer-kidnap case enters entrapment phase

That said, a defendant will not be convicted unless the government can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he understood what was going on and took affirmative steps to further the scheme. A person may not be found guilty because he knows bad actors or was in the vicinity during criminal conversations. There must be proof of knowing, intentional participation.

In any event, entrapment claims usually sound a lot stronger in the pretrial stage, when defense lawyers are trying to frame the case for the court of public opinion (including the jury pool), than they do during trial, when the evidence starts mounting in the court of law. Even if entrapment cannot be established, there may still be disturbing aspects of the investigation — are people being targeted for their political views, or is their constitutionally protected conduct being criminalized under the guise of an elastic view of conspiracy? It is too early to tell.

Also, even if entrapment cannot be established as a matter of law, it is always possible that jurors will acquit on nullification grounds if the police conduct is over the top — too aggressive, too intrusive, too involved in pushing along a scheme that might not otherwise have been formed.