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The Effects of the Fourth Amendment: An Economic Analysis

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  • Sue H. Mialon

Abstract

We develop an economic model of crime and search that allows us to analyze the effects of the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule on crime and privacy. We find that the rule always increases crime but has two opposing effects on searches. It directly reduces searches by reducing the chances that they lead to successful conviction, but it also indirectly increases them by increasing crime. If its indirect effect dominates, the rule actually increases searches and has an ambiguous effect on wrongful searches. If its direct effect dominates, it reduces wrongful searches, thereby protecting privacy. Its direct effect is more likely to dominate the greater is the number of police officers per capita, the lower is the police's incentive to simply close cases and the more accountable the police are for their mistakes. Police accountability also increases crime but unambiguously reduces wrongful searches. We also explore the effects of long-term progress in search technology on crime and privacy. The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jleo/ewm043
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization.

Volume (Year): 24 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 22-44

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:24:y:2008:i:1:p:22-44

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Cited by:
  1. Hugo Mialon & Sue Mialon, 2008. "The Economics of Search Warrants," Emory Economics 0810, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  2. Dhammika Dharmapala & Thomas J. Miceli, 2012. "Search, Seizure and (False?) Arrest: An Analysis of Fourth Amendment Remedies when Police can Plant Evidence," Working papers 2012-37, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  3. Curtis Taylor & Liad Wagman, 2008. "Who Benefits From Online Privacy?," Working Papers 08-26, NET Institute.

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