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Criminalizing environmental offences: when the prosecutor’s helping hand hurts

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  • Timo Goeschl

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  • Ole Jürgens

Abstract

Recent policy initiatives by the European Commission envisage an increased criminalization of offences against the environment, bringing the deterrent power of criminal law to bear on environmental violators in order to increase environmental quality. This paper examines some of the implications of such initiatives from a law-and-economics perspective. We show that increased criminalization does not necessarily lead to higher environmental quality. Budget-constrained regulators mandated with minimizing environmental damages can lose their ability to incentivize violators to report their misconducts in the presence of criminal prosecution. Therefore, some of the damages that otherwise can be remediated go undetected. The mechanism results from the subtle interplay of the current regulatory structure and the incentives of the environmental criminal justice system. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Timo Goeschl & Ole Jürgens, 2014. "Criminalizing environmental offences: when the prosecutor’s helping hand hurts," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 199-219, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:ejlwec:v:37:y:2014:i:2:p:199-219
    DOI: 10.1007/s10657-011-9270-7
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10657-011-9270-7
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:envpol:v:19:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10018-016-0166-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Florian Baumann & Tim Friehe, 2017. "Design standards and technology adoption: welfare effects of increasing environmental fines when the number of firms is endogenous," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 19(2), pages 427-450, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental crime; Self-reporting; Legality principle; Sanctioning discretion; K14; K32; K42;

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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