Exculpatory Evidence

Sometimes people are convicted in a Criminal Trial, and in some limited circumstances, an attorney can have the sentence vacated and the individual is released. This most often happens when there has been Prosecutorial Misconduct. Most people associate Prosecutorial Misconduct with the actions of the police - but this is not the case (and will be the subject of another blog). Most likely, if there is Prosecutorial Misconduct, it is because the Prosecution withheld evidence helpful to the defense. This is known as Exculpatory Evidence. Sometimes, this Exculpatory Evidence is so powerful, that it is clear that the evidence would have made a difference in the outcome of the trial and the individual should not have been convicted - or the integrity of the jury was compromised. Some examples of Exculpatory Evidence are: Another individual confessing to the crime during an interrogation (with specifics that could only have been known to that individual); DNA evidence linking another individual; and prior victim allegations identical to the allegations made against the defendant; an Alibi witness coming forward. This list is not exhaustive and there are hundreds of examples in cases throughout the United States. Most often, Exculpatory Evidence is obtained by chance - or perhaps there is an individual who acts as a Guardian Angel, who does not want to see an innocent person be convicted of a crime they did not commit (these people are often unrecognized heros). The attorney then has a very limited amount of time to bring the matter back before the Court to have the sentence vacated and asking the individual to be released.