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Can a Prosecutor Withhold Evidence?

Nov 09 2016, by Jessica McElfresh in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog

Many shows, such as “Making a Murderer” and “The Night Of”, have shown that prosecutors will withhold evidence in order to prove a defendant’s guilt. Is this something that prosecutors can legally do? According to a number of verdicts reached by the United States Supreme Court, the answer seems to be a resounding no. If you believe that evidence is being withheld in your case that could prove your innocence, contact San Diego criminal attorney Jessica McElfresh for a free consultation. She will work tirelessly to ensure that your legal rights are protected in the court of law.

Call (858) 756-7107 now to see how McElfresh Law can reveal evidence that may lead to your charges being dismissed.

Is Withholding Evidence Legal?

In 1963, The Supreme Court ruled on the Brady v. Maryland case. They determined that it is a violation of due process for the prosecution to withhold or suppress certain types of evidence that the defense has requested. This evidence is now commonly referred to as “Brady material” and includes any material that is relevant to guilt or that is favorable to the defendant.

If the defense discovers that the prosecution is guilty of a Brady violation after the defendant has been convicted, the defendant is given a new trial. However, a new trial is only awarded if the withheld evidence was material, or relevant to the case. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the evidence is only considered material if it would have led to a change in court proceedings or the verdict. Brady violations are most commonly seen in the form of the prosecution misleading the defense about the existence of requested material evidence.

Legal Recourse

In many cases, prosecutors can be sued for misconduct when they engage in a Brady violation. Types of misconduct include withholding, concealment, doctoring of evidence, and destruction of evidence. This type of intentional misconduct is punished under 42 U.S.C. and is a violation of the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution.

Police officers can also be sued for the same types of misconduct. However, officers are completely immune from any suit resulting from their court testimony. With this being the case, law enforcement personnel can only be sued for violations that occur outside of the courtroom. If for example, an officer destroys evidence in a police lab, they can be legally sued for destruction of evidence. They cannot, however, be punished for blatantly lying in court, although they can be prosecuted for perjury.

Contact McElfresh Law

If you believe that a prosecutor is withholding evidence that could prove your innocence, call (858) 756-7107 immediately to speak with a highly skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney. With years of experience, attorney McElfresh can conduct an independent investigation and find material evidence that is being covered up in your case. McElfresh Law will not rest until all the relevant materials are uncovered to achieve a reduction or a dismissal of your criminal charges. Do not be taken advantage of by unscrupulous prosecutors. Contact attorney McElfresh today to get your life back on track.