Brady Motions and Brady Violations

A Brady violation is a situation where the prosecution holds back information or evidence that could have helped you defend against the charges in your case. You can file a Brady motion to ask the judge to dismiss the case if this happens.  

The so-called “Brady motion” can be crucial in DUI cases where information was withheld by either the police, the prosecutor, or both. If that information could have helped you build your defense or win your case, filing a Brady motion may be enough to get the judge to dismiss the charges against you. If so, you effectively win your DUI case.

History of the Brady Motion

The Brady motion is named after a famous court case where two men were charged with murder for a death that happened during a robbery. One of the men gave police a written statement that it was only he, acting alone, who had committed the murder. The prosecution knew about this statement but the defense did not, and as a result, it never came up at trial. As a result, John Leo Brady was convicted for a murder he did not commit. (Eventually, the Supreme Court heard the case and shorted Brady’s sentence so that he only served time for robbery, not murder.)

Because of this landmark decision, any time the prosecution withholds information it is known as a Brady violation—a violation of your rights as the defendant. And, if you or your lawyer discover this information, you can file a Brady motion with the judge. A Brady motion is really just a motion to dismiss, but on the specific grounds that you were not given the evidence you needed to defend yourself.

What kind of information does the prosecution have to share?

Every DUI case goes through a stage known as discovery. It’s during discovery that the prosecution must share all of its evidence with the defense, so that the defense has a chance to prepare for the trial. This will usually start with a discovery motion which is your lawyer’s formal request for:

  • Specific documents or pieces of evidence that you know about
  • All the evidence that the prosecutor plans to use, whether you know about it or not, and
  • Broader, general types of evidence, such as “all statements made by witnesses”

If the prosecution leaves anything out, it’s a violation and you may be able to use a Brady motion to get the case dismissed. You can learn more about how Brady motions are used in DUI cases here.

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