Freedom Now or a Future Later: Pitting the Lasting Implications of Collateral Consequences Against Pretrial Detention in Decisions to Plead Guilty

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (2018)

44 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2018

See all articles by Vanessa Edkins

Vanessa Edkins

Florida Institute of Technology

Lucian E. Dervan

Belmont University School of Law

Date Written: May 31, 2018

Abstract

With a criminal conviction comes numerous restrictions on rights, and often these collateral consequences are not adequately communicated to a defendant accepting a plea deal. The question we posed was whether informing individuals of collateral consequences would alter their decisions to plead. Using prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1984) and the theory of temporal discounting (Ainslie,1975), we hypothesized that the delayed nature of collateral consequences - especially if the consequences were competing with overly enticing immediate rewards to accepting a plea deal, namely the ability to be released from pretrial detention - would not have the desired effect of exerting a strong influence on decisions to plead. Across two studies - the first, an exploratory within-subjects design; the second, a more controlled between-subjects design - we found that while actual guilt mattered the most with regard to decisions to plead, pretrial detention also weighed heavy (especially influential in challenging our innocent participants’ steadfastness to hold out for a trial). Collateral consequences did not have as large of an impact, especially if pretrial detention was involved. We also saw that, in general, participants were not opposed to the imposition of most collateral consequences. Future directions for plea bargaining research are discussed.

Keywords: plea bargaining, collateral consequences, pretrial detention, legal decision making

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K14, K30, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Edkins, Vanessa and Dervan, Lucian E., Freedom Now or a Future Later: Pitting the Lasting Implications of Collateral Consequences Against Pretrial Detention in Decisions to Plead Guilty (May 31, 2018). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3145914

Vanessa Edkins

Florida Institute of Technology ( email )

150 West University Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901-6975
United States

Lucian E. Dervan (Contact Author)

Belmont University School of Law ( email )

1900 Belmont Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37212
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.belmont.edu/law/

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