A Brady violation is a violation of the Brady Rule, which requires the prosecution to disclose specific evidence it has in a criminal case to the defense. The evidence that the prosecution must disclose is any evidence that could be favorable to the defendant. For example, if the evidence could lead to the charges being dropped or reduced, or prove that the defendant did not commit the crime in question.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer from Simmrin Law Group can help you fight any criminal charges filed against you. They will investigate whether a Brady violation occurred and protect your rights against this issue.
What Is the Brady Case?
The Brady rule stems from the Brady case, which is named after John Brady. John Brady was charged and convicted of first-degree murder in Maryland in 1963 along with Charles Boblit. Brady claimed he only took part in the robbery that preceded the murder. This fact was supported by Boblit, but the confession did not make it to the trial.
The Supreme Court heard the case in 1963 and decided in a 7-2 ruling that Brady’s rights were violated under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment but that the confession would not have led to an exoneration for Brady.
Brady was eventually granted clemency by the Maryland Governor in 1974 after spending 16 years in prison.
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What Is Considered Brady Material?
In a broad sense of the term, Brady material is any evidence that might be helpful to the defense team. However, Brady evidence often falls into one of three categories:
- Evidence that the crime was committed by someone else
- Evidence that a witness for the government might be lying
- Evidence that the sentence for the crime should be less harsh
Which Evidence Proves the Crime Was Committed by Someone Else?
This type of evidence includes items that show someone else was the perpetrator of the crime and items that show the accused did not commit the crime. Evidence that can be used for this includes the following:
- DNA that identifies someone other than the accused
- Video or still photos of a new suspect
- Witness testimony that corroborates the alibi of the defendant
- Fingerprints that identify a possible new suspect and/or eliminate the current defendant charged with the crime
What Type of Evidence Proves that a Witness for the Government Might be Lying?
Evidence in this category includes evidence that shows the witness has a motive to lie in the case, that they provided false testimony, or that anyone assigned to the case might not be credible. People assigned to the case who might not be credible include police officers, lab technicians, forensic specialists, and others.
What Type of Evidence Shows that the Sentence for the Crime Should Be Less Harsh?
Evidence that falls under this category would include any item or piece of information that shows the reason for the sentencing to be less harsh based on that jurisdiction’s sentencing guidelines.
What Are the Remedies for a Brady Violation?
Unfortunately, many Brady violations are not discovered until well after the defendant has been convicted of and sentenced for a crime. This means that the defendant will have likely already served time in jail and will need to have their conviction overturned. However, there are possible remedies for a Brady violation that a California criminal defense lawyer can assist with during your case.
What Remedies Are Available Prior to a Criminal Trial?
Should your defense attorney discover a Brady violation prior to the trial starting, they can file a motion to challenge the evidence. Your defense attorney can also file a motion to dismiss the charges with prejudice. If this is approved, then the prosecutor will not be able to file the same charges against you a second time.
If the motion to dismiss with prejudice is not granted, your criminal defense attorney can then ask for the following:
- Request additional time to investigate the newly disclosed evidence be granted
- Instructing the jury that a Brady violation has occurred
- Admission of evidence that in other circumstances might not be admissible or relevant to the case
- Requesting ethical sanctions against the prosecutor assigned to the case
What Remedies Are Available During a Criminal Trial?
It is more common for a Brady violation to come to light when a criminal trial is already underway. If this happens in your case, your defense lawyer can file a motion for a judgment of acquittal. If you are granted an acquittal, the judge will bypass a decision from the jury, and you are declared to be not guilty on all of the charges. Your defense lawyer also has the option of filing a motion for a new trial.
What Remedies Are Available After You Have Been Convicted?
In too many cases, the Brady violation is not discovered until well after the defendant has been convicted. If this happens in your case, your defense attorney can file for post-conviction relief. The defense attorney will file one of the following on your behalf:
- Direct appeal to the conviction
- Filing a motion for a new trial
- Petition for a writ of habeas corpus
If the motion is granted, the defendant will be granted a new trial. When this happens, the government often does not want to spend the expenses related to a new trial, so the defendant is able to walk free.
What Is the Due Process Protections Act?
Signed into law in October 2020, the Due Process Protections Act (DPPA), this legislation was created in an effort to reduce the amount of Brady violations. The law requires federal judges to give strict reminders to prosecutors at the beginning of trials that they must disclose evidence according to the Brady rule. On top of the reminder, federal judges must also explicitly explain to prosecutors the consequences they face if they commit a Brady violation.
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