Title

A Public Choice Theory of Criminal Procedure

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

ISSN

2156-6208

Publisher

University of Chicago Press

Language

en-US

Abstract

We provide an additional justification for the pro-defendant bias in Anglo-American criminal procedure that supplements the most commonly forwarded justifications to date. The most commonly forwarded rationale for the prodefendant bias is that the costs of false convictions-specifically, the sanctioning and deterrence costs associated with the erroneous imposition of criminal sanctions-are greater than the costs of false acquittals. We argue that this rationale provides at best a partial justification for the extent of prodefendant procedural rules. Under our justification, prodefendant protections serve primarily as constraints on the costs associated with rent seeking in the law enforcement process. The theory developed here explains key institutional features of Anglo-American criminal procedure and provides a positive theory of the case law as well. The theory is also corroborated by empirical evidence on corruption from several countries

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