Exculpatory evidence in its simplest form is any favorable evidence for a defendant in a criminal case that can be used to prove their innocence. In United States law per Brady v. Maryland, a defendant MUST be disclosed by prosecutors of ALL evidence they have before the defendant accepts a guilty or not guilty plea. This requirement falls under a constitutional right of due process for a defendant. Exculpatory evidence is significant because it guarantees a person will face criminal punishment only if they commit a crime. This might seem like common sense but prior to this requirement, innocent people were being charged with crimes simply because the prosecution opted out in sharing evidence that proved a defendant’s innocence. Understanding this right is crucial to your case and can be significant in a successful appeal if you were convicted.
In the State of Florida, under Fla.R.Crim. P. 3.220(b)(4), the right to exculpatory evidence is protected under A Notice of Discovery. This notice triggers a duty from the prosecution to provide your attorney and defense team all evidence they have collected including police reports, witness testimonies, and other documents. Attorneys in the state of Florida are required to take a course in understanding and upholding this procedure.
A violation of exculpatory evidence is more commonly referred to as a Brady violation (referring to Brady v. Maryland case). The 3 elements a defendant must show are that the evidence:
Was favorable either because it is impeaching or exculpatory
Was suppressed by the state either knowingly or inadvertently
Was material and its suppression resulted in prejudice
Once a violation has occurred, a defense attorney can then file a motion to challenge the evidence and legality of the conviction. This will commonly result in a retrial in which a more favorable result or reduce sentence is more just and possible.
If you believe the prosecution in your case omitted any exculpatory evidence that would have proved your innocence, call us immediately at 954.928.0059. We have an experienced team that can help submit an appeal for your conviction on the grounds that your constitutional right of due process was violated helping prove your innocence or result in a just reduced sentence.