Economic models of crime and punishment implicitly assume that the government can credibly commit to the fines, sentences, and apprehension rates it has chosen. We study the government's problem when credibility is an issue. We find that several of the standard predictions of the economic model of crime and punishment are robust to commitment, but that credibility may in some cases result in lower apprehension rates, and hence a higher crime rate, compared to the static version of the model.
Baker, Matthew J. and Miceli, Thomas J., "Credible Criminal Enforcement" (2003). Economics Working Papers. 200340.