The Benefits of a Right to Silence for the Innocent
University of Southern California
November 18, 2011
RAND Journal of Economics, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 398-416, 2010
USC CLEO Research Papers Series No. C11-19
USC Legal Studies Research Papers Series No. 11-26
This article shows that innocent suspects benefit from exercising their right to silence during criminal proceedings. We present a model in which a criminal suspect can either make a statement or remain silent during police interrogation. At trial, the jury observes informative but imperfect signals about the suspect's guilt and the truthfulness of the suspect's statement. We show that a right to silence benefits innocent suspects by providing them with a safer alternative to speech, as well as by reducing the probability of wrongful conviction for suspects who remain silent with and without a right to silence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 30, 2011 ; Last revised: November 20, 2011
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