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A Utilitarian Justification for Heightened Standards of Proof in Criminal Trials

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  • Murat C. Mungan

Abstract

This paper contributes to the interpretation of the standard of proof in criminal trials in two ways. First, it provides a purely utilitarian explanation as to why there are asymmetric costs associated with false convictions and acquittals. It relies on the fact that noncriminals may engage in precautionary activities in order to avoid false convictions. Second, it shows that this difference in the costs associated with false-conviction and -acquittal rates is under certain circumstances sufficient to justify heightened standards of proofs.

Suggested Citation

  • Murat C. Mungan, 2011. "A Utilitarian Justification for Heightened Standards of Proof in Criminal Trials," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 167(2), pages 352-370, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(201106)167:2_352:aujfhs_2.0.tx_2-e
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James Andreoni, 1991. "Reasonable Doubt and the Optimal Magnitude of Fines: Should the Penalty Fit the Crime?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:irlaec:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:1-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Mungan, Murat C., 2014. "A behavioral justification for escalating punishment schemes," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 189-197.
    3. Mungan, Murat C., 2015. "Wrongful convictions and the punishment of attempts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 79-87.
    4. Allain, Marie-Laure & Boyer, Marcel & Kotchoni, Rachidi & Ponssard, Jean-Pierre, 2015. "Are cartel fines optimal? Theory and evidence from the European Union," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 38-47.
    5. Matteo Rizzolli & Margherita Saraceno, 2013. "Better that ten guilty persons escape: punishment costs explain the standard of evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 395-411, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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