Abolishing the Curious Sentencing Anomaly Between the Voluntary Disclosure of One’s Own Offending and Assisting Authorities with the Offending of Others

2019-10-29T09:39:02Z (GMT) by Mirko Bagaric
Offenders who help authorities by providing information that can assist the investigation or prosecution of another person are accorded the most substantial sentencing discount in our system of law. The key reason for this is the utilitarian benefit associated with apprehending and prosecuting criminals. Offenders who voluntarily disclose their own crimes also normally receive a sentencing discount. However, the size of the discount is not quantified and in most instances seems to be less than the penalty reduction for assisting authorities with the crimes of others. From a normative perspective, voluntary disclosure of one’s own offending is at least as commendable as providing information about the crimes of others. Moreover, in most instances voluntary disclosure of one’s own crime or crimes confers greater benefits than does the provision of information about the crimes of others. Voluntary disclosure, for example, is more likely to save the state the expense of a trial. In this article, I argue that sentencing law should be reformed so that offenders who self-report their crimes receive a discount at least equal to (and in some instances greater than) off enders who provide information about the crimes of others. I also argue that this discount should be precisely quantified.





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