A Defense by Any Other Name: Entrapment-by-Estoppel as a Criminal Defense in Arizona

Entrapment-by-estoppel is a criminal defense founded in due process. The defense
emerged over 50 years ago from the U.S. Supreme Court and has seen steady
growth and acceptance. Arizona courts, however, have not yet recognized the
defense. The entrapment-by-estoppel defense provides an affirmative defense only
in those circumstances where a person, sincerely desirous of following the law,
breaks the law after seeking an official opinion regarding the legality of proposed
behavior. Acceptance of the defense in Arizona should be driven by both
recognition of the constitutional imperative central to the defense and by
recognition that the old legal maxim “ignorance is no excuse” becomes less
supportable in the face of the state’s continual expansion of laws and regulations.