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Prosecutorial Resources, Plea Bargaining, and the Decision to Go to Trial

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  • Baker, Scott
  • Mezzetti, Claudio

Abstract

This article examines the strategic interaction between a defendant and a prosecutor during the plea bargaining process. A four-stage game of incomplete information is developed where the defendant's guilt or innocence is private information but the amount of resources available to the prosecutor is common knowledge. The basic result of the article is that equilibrium is semiseparating; the plea offer is accepted by a proportion of the guilty defendants and is rejected by all of the innocent defendants and the remaining guilty defendants. In this model an increase in the resources available to the prosecutor increases the proportion of guilty defendants who accept plea offers. Although the prosecutor is unable to generate complete separation of the guilty and innocent defendants through the plea bargaining process, prosecutorial resources are beneficial from a societal standpoint. Copyright 2001 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Baker, Scott & Mezzetti, Claudio, 2001. "Prosecutorial Resources, Plea Bargaining, and the Decision to Go to Trial," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 149-167, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:17:y:2001:i:1:p:149-67
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Bryan C McCannon, 2010. "Re-election Concerns and the Failure of Plea Bargaining," Discussion Papers 10-28, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    2. Eric Rasmusen & Manu Raghav & Mark Ramseyer, 2009. "Convictions versus Conviction Rates: The Prosecutor's Choice," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 47-78.
    3. SangMok Lee, 2014. "Plea bargaining: on the selection of jury trials," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 57(1), pages 59-88, September.
    4. Mongrain, Steeve & Roberts, Joanne, 2009. "Plea bargaining with budgetary constraints," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 8-12, March.
    5. repec:kap:ejlwec:v:44:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10657-016-9554-z is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Christmann, Robin, 2018. "Prosecution and Conviction under Hindsight Bias in Adversary Legal Systems," MPRA Paper 84870, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Philippe Delacote & Lydie Ancelot, 2009. "Prosecutor and lawyers in plea bargaining with complete information," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(3), pages 1925-1932.
    8. Christian Almer & Timo Goeschl, 2011. "The political economy of the environmental criminal justice system: a production function approach," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 611-630, September.
    9. Lydie Ancelot & Cornel Oros, 2015. "Physician–patient relationship and medical accident victim compensation: some insights into the French regulatory system," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(5), pages 529-542, June.
    10. SIDDHARTHA BANDYOPADHYAY & BRYAN C. McCANNON, 2015. "Prosecutorial Retention: Signaling by Trial," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(2), pages 219-256, April.
    11. Jeong-Yoo Kim, 2010. "Credible plea bargaining," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 279-293, June.
    12. Andrew F. Daughety & Reinganum F. Reinganum, 2014. "Settlement and Trial: Selected Analyses of the Bargaining Environment," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 14-00005, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    13. Schwarz Mordechai E., 2012. "Subgame Perfect Plea Bargaining in Biform Judicial Contests," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 297-330, September.
    14. McCannon, Bryan C., 2010. "Homicide trials in Classical Athens," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 46-51, March.
    15. Manu Raghav, 2006. "Why do budgets received by state prosecutors vary across districts in the United States?," Caepr Working Papers 2006-018, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
    16. Scott A. Baker & Anup Malani, 2011. "Does Accuracy Improve the Information Value of Trials?," NBER Working Papers 17036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Bourjade, Sylvain & Rey, Patrick & Seabright, Paul, 2009. "Private Antitrust Enforcement in the Presence of Pre-Trial Bargaining," IDEI Working Papers 499, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    18. Sylvain Bourjade & Patrick Rey & Paul Seabright, 2009. "PRIVATE ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT IN THE PRESENCE OF PRE-TRIAL BARGAINING -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 372-409, September.
    19. Luke Garrod & Bruce Lyons, 2016. "Early Settlement in European Merger Control," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(1), pages 27-63, March.
    20. repec:clg:wpaper:2009-05 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Jeong-Yoo Kim, 2009. "Secrecy and fairness in plea bargaining with multiple defendants," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 96(3), pages 263-276, April.
    22. Bourjade, Sylvain, 2009. "The role of private litigation in antitrust enforcement," MPRA Paper 34818, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Bjerk, David, 2008. "On the role of plea bargaining and the distribution of sentences in the absence of judicial system frictions," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-7, March.
    24. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2017. "Information suppression by teams and violations of the Brady rule," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 17-00001, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.

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