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Sting Operations, Undercover Agents and Entrapment

Bruce L. Hay

Harvard Law School

October 2003

Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 441

This paper undertakes an economic analysis of "sting" operations, in which the authorities induce, or tempt, an individual to commit a crime or comparable rule violation. The paper considers the rationales for this law enforcement technique, including its potential advantages over alternative techniques such as ex post apprehension of offenders. Two functions of sting operations are emphasized and analyzed: (1) the informational function of identifying likely offenders; and (2) the behavioral function of deterring offenses. The paper examines the tensions between these functions, and offers a model of desirable sting operation policy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 63

JEL Classification: K0, K4

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Date posted: November 17, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Hay, Bruce L., Sting Operations, Undercover Agents and Entrapment (October 2003). Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 441. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=469960 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.469960

Contact Information

Bruce L. Hay (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-8277 (Phone)
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References:  24
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