The positions taken by prosecutors and defense lawyers on proposed jury instructions on lesser-included offenses provide evidence that juries do not follow the law strictly. This paper develops a simple model of expected utility to predict how jurors make their decisions. The model explains a stylized fact that is inconsistent with the idea that juries always follow the law, namely why prosecutors often object to giving the jury the option of a lesser-included offense. We use the model to evaluate the law concerning jury instructions on primary and lesser-included offenses.
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