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What is the Brady Precedent?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you have been charged with a crime, the prosecution has the burden of proof to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, a principle can affect how your defense is conducted, known as the Brady Precedent.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how Brady affects your criminal defense and discuss why it’s crucial for anyone accused of a crime to understand this powerful precedent set forth by our nation’s highest court.

The Brady v. Maryland Case

In Brady v. Maryland, John Brady and his accomplice, Donald Boblit, were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. During the trial, the prosecution failed to disclose a statement by Boblit that Brady had not been present when the fatal shot was fired. This statement could have potentially led to Brady’s acquittal.

As a result of the Brady v. Maryland case, the Supreme Court established the Brady Precedent. The doctrine requires prosecutors to disclose any evidence favorable to the defendant and might lead to a different outcome in the trial, even if it’s only potentially helpful.

This evidence could include witness statements, police reports, and forensic evidence that may be helpful to the defense. By disclosing such information, the prosecution ensures that the defendant’s right to a fair trial is protected. This principle is considered a fundamental part of due process in criminal cases.

At its core, this ruling protects citizens from wrongful punishment by ensuring that all information pertinent to their defense case is provided directly by prosecutors before trial. 

Although the Brady Precedent is a critical component of a fair legal system, it has become the subject of much debate. There have been concerns about prosecutors failing to disclose exculpatory evidence, either intentionally or unintentionally, leading to wrongful convictions.

However, it continues to play a vital role in upholding the legal system’s fundamental principles of fairness and justice. Knowing the evidence against you can help build your defense. Without the Brady Precedent, the prosecution could potentially withhold that evidence, depriving you of a fair trial.