When a defendant in Illinois is first handed charges, the investigation into their case is usually not complete. In fact, a lot of evidence may be discovered up to the date of the final ruling. If prosecutors find evidence that may point to the defendant’s innocence, they are obligated to reveal it to the criminal defense attorney.
The 1963 United States Supreme Court decision in Brady v. Maryland found that prosecutors are obligated to reveal exculpatory evidence to the defense. Exculpatory evidence does not need to confirm that a defendant is innocent, it’s just evidence that might be favorable to the defense. If a prosecutor hides exculpatory evidence and a defendant is convicted, the conviction may be overturned later on.
Despite their obligation to reveal exculpatory evidence, many prosecutors hide evidence that does not fit the narrative that they have established. There have been cases where prosecutors find new evidence near the end of a trial but choose not to reveal it so that they can “win.” One of the reasons prosecutors may not readily reveal evidence is that they do not face any punishment for Brady violations. Even if a mistrial is declared and a convict is exonerated, nothing will happen to the prosecutor who hid the evidence.
A defendant who is facing serious charges may want to have representation from a criminal defense attorney who can investigate and look for evidence that the prosecution may be withholding. If a defendant believes that they were wrongly convicted, an attorney may be able to help them to file an appeal.