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State v. Powell

Supreme Court of Hawaii
726 P.2d 266 (1986)


Facts

The Honolulu Police Department decided to conduct several drunk-decoy operations in response to elevated instances of theft and robbery. After conducting 11 of these operations, 19 people were arrested, including Laverne Powell (defendant). During the operation that concluded with Powell’s arrest, 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 located in his back pocket with money protruding from the wallet in plain sight. Powell walked by the officer, turned back, and stole the wallet from the officer’s pocket. Two undercover officers detained Powell as she was attempting to leave the area. Powell was charged with theft. Prior to trial, Powell moved for dismissal, arguing that the undisputed facts, as testified to by the officer who organized the operation in question, established entrapment. 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 trial court granted Powell’s motion to dismiss.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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