27 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2011 Last revised: 24 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 13, 2011
The relationship between legal offenses and punishment is well studied by scholars of sociology, economics and law. Economists contend that punishment is a cost of committing an offense, hence an increase in the severity of punishments should decrease incentives to commit legal offenses. And the efficiency of legal punishments are studied generally from this perspective: giving efficient incentives to commit legal offense. This paper studies the relationship between punishment and evidence disclosure in a game theoretical model. A defendant is trying to persuade a judge by presenting evidence to take a favorable legal action rather than less favorable ones on his case. I show that the equilibrium disclosure of the defendant is not affected by a change in the scale of legal actions when there is no uncertainty on how the judge evaluates evidence. With uncertainty, however, the defendant can be induced to disclose more information by decreasing the severity ratio of the most unfavorable legal action to the most favorable one. This shows that in the more realistic case of uncertainty the severity of punishments has an effect on evidence disclosure and efficiency of punishment schedule should be analyzed by internalizing its effect on evidence disclosure as well.
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By Itai Sher