For very useful comments and suggestions, I am grateful to the editor, Jennifer Reinganum, two anonymous referees, Mat McCubbins, and Daniel Seidmann. I also thank seminar participants at the American Law and Economics Annual Meeting (2008), Tel Aviv University School of Law (2008), Marshall School of Business (2008), and the University of Southern California Economics Department (2009).
The benefits of a right to silence for the innocent
Version of Record online: 3 MAY 2010
© 2010, RAND
The RAND Journal of Economics
Volume 41, Issue 2, pages 398–416, Summer 2010
How to Cite
Leshem, S. (2010), The benefits of a right to silence for the innocent. The RAND Journal of Economics, 41: 398–416. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-2171.2010.00105.x
- Issue online: 3 MAY 2010
- Version of Record online: 3 MAY 2010
This article shows that innocent suspects benefit from exercising their right to silence during criminal proceedings. We present a model in which a criminal suspect can either make a statement or remain silent during police interrogation. At trial, the jury observes informative but imperfect signals about the suspect's guilt and the truthfulness of the suspect's statement. We show that a right to silence benefits innocent suspects by providing them with a safer alternative to speech, as well as by reducing the probability of wrongful conviction for suspects who remain silent with and without a right to silence.