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Optimal Deterrence with Legal Defence Expenditure

  • Hugh Gravelle
  • Nuno Garoupa

Legal defence expenditure by those accused of a crime reduces their probability of punishment (whether innocent and guilty). We show that there could be more or less crime in a system which permits such expenditure. Because accused may choose a level of defence expenditure which bankrupts them if found guilty, deterrence can decrease when the fine is increased. The unregulated expenditure of innocent and guilty defendants is inefficient. We show that the optimal fine will never bankrupt the dishonest accused but that the honest accused can be bankrupt or left with positive wealth if convicted. We examine policies to regulate defence expenditure including a tax financed public defender system, a tax on legal defence and compensation for acquitted accused.

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File URL: http://www.york.ac.uk/media/economics/documents/discussionpapers/2000/0008.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of York in its series Discussion Papers with number 00/08.

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Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:00/08
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  1. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1989. "Legal Advice about Acts Already Commited," NBER Working Papers 3005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Png, I. P. L., 1986. "Optimal subsidies and damages in the presence of judicial error," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 101-105, June.
  3. Dnes, Antony W, 1996. "An Economic Analysis of the BSE Scare," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 43(3), pages 343-48, August.
  4. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1990. "A Note on Optimal Fines When Wealth Varies Among Individuals," NBER Working Papers 3232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lott, John R, Jr, 1987. "Should the Wealthy Be Able to "Buy Justice"?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1307-16, December.
  6. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
  7. Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-91, December.
  8. Miceli, Thomas J., 1991. "Optimal criminal procedure: Fairness and deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-10, May.
  9. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-95, September.
  10. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1982. "The optimum enforcement of laws and the concept of justice: A positive analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 3-27, June.
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