Know Your Rights: What Is A Brady Motion?
Evidence is key to any criminal case. Of course, the burden of proof rests on the state. It is up to prosecutors to present evidence proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. That being said, it would be a mistake for a defendant to be passive in the criminal justice process. A key part of raising a successful defense is gathering, preparing, and presenting exculpatory evidence.
A Brady Motion is a tool that attorneys use to make sure that police and prosecutors have turned over all of the exculpatory evidence. While they are required to do so by law, it does not always happen. Within this article, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer explains the key things you need to know about Brady Motions in Florida.
Background: Prosecutors Have a Duty to Turn Over Exculpatory Evidence
To start, it is important to emphasize that prosecutors are legally obligated to provide potentially exculpatory evidence to the defendant. They cannot bury this evidence. The Brady Rule applies to this issue. As defined by Cornell Legal Information Institute, the Brady Rule applies to all evidence within the possession of the government that would be deemed “favorable to the accused.” Evidence may be favorable to a defendant if it is material to the case and it does any of the following:
- Suggests innocence;
- Would reduce a potential sentence; or
- Undermines a witness’s credibility.
A Brady Motion is a Tool to Force Prosecutors to Hand Over Evidence
The prosecution has a proactive duty to turn over exculpatory evidence. In other words, you should not have to take any action to get favorable evidence held by the government. Still, the reality is not always so straightforward. There are plenty of cases in which prosecutors —whether acting in bad faith or simply because they do not know what they have—fail to turn over relevant evidence.
A Brady Motion is a legal tool that you can use to compel evidence from the prosecution. You can use such a legal motion to seek both exculpatory and impeachment evidence from the prosecution. Impeachment evidence is evidence that may undermine the credibility of another party. For example, if there is a witness testifying against you, the prosecution may have access to evidence/information that undermines the credibility. That should be turned over to the defense.
To be approved by a court, a Brady Motion generally needs to be reasonably specific. If you submit a Brady Motion stating simply that the prosecution needs to turn over all exculpatory evidence, they will likely turn around and argue that they have already done so. Most often, a Brady Motion will need to include some potential theory (or theories) of the case. It should be drafted by a lawyer.
Get Help From Our Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer has professional expertise that you can trust. If you have any questions about Brady motions, we are more than ready to help. Contact us today to arrange a completely confidential, no commitment case review. From our Orlando law office, we represent defendants throughout all of Central Florida.