Missouri defendants in criminal trials may obtain an acquittal or a dismissal in a case through exculpatory evidence. Exculpatory evidence is defined as anything that would tend to establish that a person is not guilty of committing a crime. Data from a cellphone or DNA test results could be examples of this type of evidence.
In some cases, a defendant may be able to access the personnel file of a police officer by asserting that it could prove his or her innocence. As a general rule, prosecutors must turn over any exculpatory or impeachment evidence that they possess. Impeachment evidence could be used to cast doubt on the credibility of a witness. If such evidence is not turned over, a failure to do so could be grounds for an appeal or a request for a new trial. That was the key takeaway in the Supreme Court case of Brady v Maryland.
Failing to provide this type of evidence could also be grounds for pressing charges against a prosecutor. Exculpatory evidence may need to be revealed to a defendant even if it wouldn’t be admissible in court. Typically, defendants must also be informed about any inculpatory evidence that a prosecutor has against them. Inculpatory evidence is any information that would generally prove that a defendant is guilty of committing a crime.
A criminal defense attorney is likely going to look for as much exculpatory or impeachment evidence as possible to use during a trial. This may help an individual obtain a plea deal or an acquittal. In some cases, it may be possible to use such evidence to get a case dismissed. An attorney may also work to get evidence suppressed or take other steps to erode a prosecutor’s case.