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Criminal law: Criminal law is the branch of law that deals with offenses against the state or society, defining and regulating conduct deemed harmful or threatening. It encompasses prosecution, trial, and punishment of individuals found guilty of crimes. See also Law, Laws, Crime, State, Society.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Gary S. Becker on Criminal Law - Dictionary of Arguments

Parisi I 17
Criminal Law/Gary Becker/Miceli: [there is a] normative analysis [an economic approach to crime control] based on the economic theory of law enforcement as first formalized by Becker (1968)(1) and elaborated on by Polinsky and Shavell (2000(2), 2007(3)), among others. [Becker-Polinsky-Shavell, BPS model].
Parisi I 18
1) (...) the BPS model says that the optimal sanction, whether a fine or imprisonment, should be maximal. The reason this is true for a fine is clear: offenders only care about the expected sanction, pf, and since it is costly to raise the probability of apprehension, p, but not the fine, f, it is cost-minimizing to raise the fine as much as possible (up to the offender’s wealth) before raising the probability. Less obviously, when the sanction is prison only, the optimal prison term should also be maximal. Intuitively, expected costs can be lowered by increasing the prison term and lowering the probability of apprehension proportionally (thereby holding deterrence fixed) because the punishment, although costly, is imposed less often. In terms of actual punishment policy, however, it is clear that fines and prison terms are not set at their maximal levels for most crimes.
, >Jurisprudence.
In this sense, the model is not descriptive of actual legal practice.
2) (...) the BPS model predicts that imprisonment should only be used after fines have been used up to the maximum extent possible (for example, up to the offender’s wealth), and only then if additional deterrence is cost-justified. Again, the logic is clear: fines are costless to increase while prison is costly, so it is optimal to exhaust the costless form of punishment first.

1. Becker, Gary (1968). “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach.” Journal of Political Economy 76: 169–217.
2. Polinsky, A. Mitchell and Steven Shavell (2000). “The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law.” Journal of Economic Literature 38: 45–76.
3. Polinsky, A. Mitchell and Steven Shavell (2007). “The Theory of Public Law Enforcement,” in A. M. Polinsky and S. Shavell, eds., Handbook of Law and Economics, 403–454. Amsterdam: North-Holland.

Miceli, Thomas J. „Economic Models of Law“. In: Parisi, Francesco (ed) (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics. Vol 1: Methodology and Concepts. NY: Oxford University Press.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Becker, Gary S.
Parisi I
Francesco Parisi (Ed)
The Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics: Volume 1: Methodology and Concepts New York 2017

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