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Deterrence with Multiple Defendants: An Explanation for "Unfair" Plea Bargains


  • Bruce H. Kobayashi


This article examines plea bargaining where there are multiple defendants facing a prosecutor. The prosecutor's optimal offer to each defendant is shown to depend upon the following two factors: (i) the defendant's ex ante probability of conviction, and (ii) the defendant's ability to increase his co-conspirator's probability of conviction. Furthermore, if the ex ante probability of conviction is positively correlated with a defendant's ability to raise his co-conspirator's probability of conviction, a plea bargain that gives the most culpable defendant the lowest penalty can maximize deterrence.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce H. Kobayashi, 1992. "Deterrence with Multiple Defendants: An Explanation for "Unfair" Plea Bargains," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(4), pages 507-517, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:23:y:1992:i:winter:p:507-517

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    Cited by:

    1. Motta, Massimo & Polo, Michele, 2003. "Leniency programs and cartel prosecution," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 347-379, March.
    2. Antonio Acconcia & Giovanni Immordino & Salvatore Piccolo & Patrick Rey, 2014. "Accomplice Witnesses and Organized Crime: Theory and Evidence from Italy," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(4), pages 1116-1159, October.
    3. Slim, Sadri, 2009. "Du refus de vente au don: une explication de la formation du prix par l´affect [From rejection of exchange to gift: regard as an explanation of prices]," MPRA Paper 15317, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Apr 2009.
    4. 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.
    5. Ghebrihiwet, N. & Motchenkova, E.I., 2010. "Leniency programs in the presence of judicial errors," Serie Research Memoranda 0008, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    6. Philippe Choné & Saïd Souam & Arnold Vialfont, 2012. "Commitments in Antitrust," EconomiX Working Papers 2012-9, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    7. Marc Blatter & Winand Emons & Silvio Sticher, 2018. "Optimal Leniency Programs When Firms Have Cumulative and Asymmetric Evidence," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 52(3), pages 403-427, May.
    8. Catarina Marvão & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2018. "Cartels and leniency: Taking stock of what we learnt," Chapters, in: Luis C. Corchón & Marco A. Marini (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory and Industrial Organization, Volume II, chapter 4, pages 57-90, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Berg, Nathan & Kim, Jeong-Yoo, 2018. "Plea bargaining with multiple defendants and its deterrence effect," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 58-70.
    10. Claudia M. Landeo & Kathryn E. Spier, 2020. "Optimal Law Enforcement with Ordered Leniency," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(1), pages 71-111.
    11. Claudia M. Landeo & Kathryn E. Spier, 2018. "Ordered Leniency: An Experimental Study of Law Enforcement with Self-Reporting," NBER Working Papers 25094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Kobayashi, Bruce H. & Lott, John Jr., 1996. "In defense of criminal defense expenditures and plea bargaining," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 397-416, December.
    13. Richard Adelstein & Thomas Miceli, 2001. "Toward a Comparative Economics of Plea Bargaining," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 47-67, January.
    14. Salvatore Piccolo & Giovanni Immordino, 2012. "Optimal Accomplice-Witnesses Regulation under Asymmetric Information," CSEF Working Papers 304, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    15. Sandeep Dahiya & David Yermack, 1999. "Wealth Creation and Destruction from Brooke Group's Tobacco Litigation Strategy," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 99-050, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
    16. Immordino, Giovanni & Piccolo, Salvatore & Roberti, Paolo, 2020. "Optimal leniency and the organization design of group crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).

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