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


  • Baker, Scott
  • Mezzetti, Claudio


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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