When it comes to crime, it pays to be good looking.
Researchers at Bath Spa University in England came to that conclusion after conducting a courtroom experiment that asked jurors to pass judgment on a fake mugging case.
Half of the 96 participants were given a picture of an attractive suspect, the others received one of a supposedly ugly defendant. The case report was the same in either case.
The volunteer "jurors" then were asked to decide whether the suspect was innocent or guilty. In the latter case they also had to decide on a sentence.
Analysis of the results revealed that attractive suspects were more likely to be acquitted, despite there being no extra evidence in their favor.
Sandie Taylor, the psychologist who conducted the study, said: "We set out to consider the influence of physical attractiveness and ethnicity of a defendant depicted in a photograph on mock jurors' decisions of verdict, extent of guilt and sentencing.
"Our findings confirm previous research on the effects of defendant characteristics -- such as physical attractiveness -- on the deliberations of jurors.
"Attractive defendants are, it seems, rated less harshly than homely defendants, so perhaps justice isn't blind after all."