Sherman–Sorrells Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Sherman Sorrells doctrine is a principle which allows a defendant to claim as an affirmative defense that s/he was not disposed to commit the offense until a public official encouraged the defendant to do so. A successful entrapment defense under Sorrells-Sherman requires two elements: government inducement and a lack of predisposition on the part of the accused to engage in criminal conduct.

According to this doctrine entrapment is an absolute defense to a federal crime. The court may determine it if the elements are found to exist as a matter of law; otherwise it is to be decided by the jury as part of its determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. The principle was set in the cases SHERMAN v. UNITED STATES, 356 U.S. 369 (U.S. 1958) and Sorrells v. United States, 287 U.S. 435 (U.S. 1932).