The Effects of the Fourth Amendment: A Strategic Model of Crime and Search
28 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2005
Date Written: June 29, 2005
The Fourth Amendment requires police to have probable cause before searching people or their property in criminal investigations. In practice, it is enforced through the exclusionary rule: if police search without probable cause, any evidence found in the search may be excluded from court. We analyze the effects of this rule on equilibrium elements of social welfare in a strategic model of crime and search. The rule always increases crime. But it has two opposing effects on police searches. It directly reduces them by reducing the chances that they lead to successful conviction, but it also indirectly increases them by increasing crime. If the indirect effect dominates, the rule actually increases searches, and has an ambiguous effect on wrongful searches. If the direct effect dominates, it reduces searches and wrongful searches. In contrast, direct police accountability for wrongful searches unambiguously reduces searches and wrongful searches.
Keywords: Fourth amendment, crime, search, accountability
JEL Classification: K42, H10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation