Did you know that the state is required by law to give your defense attorney any evidence that was collected that points away from your guilt when they have made a case against you?
This is called exculpatory evidence or Brady evidence.
Remember, in a criminal trial, in order to be convicted, the jurors have to be convinced of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, to have your best chance, a defense attorney has to introduce reasonable doubt.
Bray Evidence and Discovery
Brady evidence is part of this process called discovery. Discovery is where – in both criminal and civil cases – both parties allow each other to examine potential evidence and take witness testimony. They can ask for documents, exhibits – including video and audio evidence – or any other steps that were taken to make their respective cases.
Felony charges in Michigan have especially strict rules that require both prosecutor and defense to turn over sensitive information. This is not the case with civil cases, where judges have more say over what kind of evidence can be turned over to whom and even if discovery is to be prohibited unless they grant a court-order.
In felony charges, the prosecution must turn over according to MCR 6.201(A) & (B).
- Witness lists
- Witness statements
- The credentials of all expert witnesses it intends to call
- Tangible physical evidence that may be introduced at trial
- Any exculpatory information or evidence known to the prosecuting attorney/
- All police reports, written or recorded statements of the defendant, co-defendant or accomplice relating to a case.
- All copies of warrants and copies of agreements related to testimony in the case.
As you can see, this rule is very important to ensure that someone facing a felony charge gets a fair trial. There may be evidence the prosecution isn’t planning to use in a trial. However, it may prove to be very important for the defense in understanding and introducing reasonable doubt.
Discovery for misdemeanor charges is less well-defined. While some prosecutors will turn over the same evidence as for a felony charge, some courts require a motion to be filed by the defense. Defense attorneys generally need to file a formal request to receive discovery for a misdemeanor charge.
The Importance of Exculpatory Evidence
The handing over of exculpatory evidence is very important to the criminal justice system in this country. Without it, and without the strict discovery laws, defendants would have no way of knowing their charges or how to fight them. The chances of getting a wrongful conviction would be much higher than they are now.
If you are facing serious criminal charges, we have the experience and knowledge to help you. Call us without delay!