A Utilitarian Justification for Heightened Standards of Proof in Criminal Trials
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, Vol. 167, No. 2, 2011
19 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2009 Last revised: 7 Apr 2011
Date Written: June 29, 2009
This paper contributes to the interpretation of the standard of proof in criminal trials in two ways. First, it provides a purely utilitarian explanation as to why there are asymmetric costs associated with false convictions and acquittals. It relies on the fact that noncriminals may engage in precautionary activities in order to avoid false convictions. Second, it shows that this difference in the costs associated with false-conviction and -acquittal rates is under certain circumstances sufficient to justify heightened standards of proofs.
Keywords: Standard of Proof, Judicial Error, Crime and Deterrence, Precautionary Activity
JEL Classification: K00, K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation