Voluntary Disclosure of Evidence in Plea Bargaining
48 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2022 Last revised: 1 Jul 2022
Date Written: January 24, 2022
I study how voluntary disclosure of information affects outcomes in plea bargaining. A prosecutor negotiates a sentence with a defendant who privately knows whether he is guilty or innocent. The prosecutor can gather evidence regarding the defendant's type during negotiations, and a trial assigns payoff depending on the evidence if they fail to reach an agreement. Voluntary disclosure induces endogenous second-order belief uncertainty. I show that a purely sentence-motivated prosecutor might disclose exculpatory evidence and that voluntary disclosure generates inefficient outcomes. Mandatory disclosure is socially preferable as outcomes are fairer and efficient. The prosecutor is better off under mandatory disclosure.
Keywords: Bargaining, plea bargain, second-order belief uncertainty, disclosure
JEL Classification: C78, D82, D83, K40
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