Legal Blog


Federal Criminal Procedure Archives

FAQ – Obtaining Exculpatory Evidence From The Prosecution in Criminal Cases

What is exculpatory evidence?

The United States Supreme Court has held that exculpatory evidence is any evidence that is favorable to the defendant on issues of guilt or punishment. Exculpatory evidence is also sometimes called “Bradyevidence” or “Bradymaterial,” a name that comes from the Court’s decision in Brady v. Maryland.

Does the defendant have a right to exculpatory evidence from the prosecution?

Under Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors have a duty to hand over exculpatory evidence to the defendant. This duty exists even without any request from the defendant. However, a specific request for exculpatory evidence can be beneficial for a … Read More »



City of Hays v. Vogt: Does the Fifth Amendment’s Privilege Against Self-Incrimination Apply to Preliminary Hearings?

The Fifth Amendment’s Self Incrimination clause prohibits the use of a defendant’s compelled statements at trial. Does this prohibition also apply at the preliminary hearing? That is the question the Supreme Court sought to answer in City of Hays v. Vogt.

Background on City of Hays v. Vogt

In City of Hays v. Vogt, Vogt, a police officer, was offered a job with the City of Haysville on the condition that he submit a written statement about possible misconduct at his previous job. Vogt complied, and was criminally charged in state court. At the probable cause hearing, the prosecutor introduced … Read More »



Obtaining Favorable Evidence From The Prosecution: Understanding the Brady Rule

Criminal cases in the United States follow, for the most part, an adversarial model. This means that each side bears primary responsibility for finding and presenting evidence supporting its arguments, while a neutral arbiter—such as a judge or a jury, decides between those competing versions of facts (or law). An important exception to this adversarial model is the Brady rule, named after the Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. In this blog post, we will explain what the Brady rule is, how it functions, and some important limitations on the Brady rule that make the rule less powerful than it … Read More »



Can I be sentenced for a crime I am found not guilty of?

Imagine the following scenario: you have been charged in a multi-count indictment with several interrelated crimes—one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of structuring. The jury acquitted you of the more serious crime of wire fraud conspiracy, but convicted you of structuring. A good outcome, right? The answer may actually surprise you, as your ultimate sentence can end up being just as high as if you have been convicted of both crimes.

As explained in our federal sentencing page, sentences for federal convictions are decided by the judge, who is required by law to consider a … Read More »



Case Study: Guilty Plea in Alexandria Federal Court by Former TV Pundit

The Washington Post recently reported on a guilty plea in the Alexandria federal courthouse: read here.

The initial reporting on the case focused on the allegation that the defendant, Wayne Simmons, falsely claimed to have been a CIA paramilitary operative. Federal prosecutors previously alleged through the indictment that Mr. Simmons never worked for the CIA. In the guilty plea, however, Mr. Simmons continues to maintain that he did in fact work for the CIA.

The facts of this white collar case in the Eastern District of Virginia are interesting and the case serves as a good example of how federal … Read More »



Pretrial Release in Federal Criminal Cases

If you or someone you know is facing, or may face, federal criminal charges, the first question is often: how to obtain pretrial release?

If you know the federal criminal charges are coming in advance, your criminal attorney may be able to arrange for you to turn yourself in at a specific time and be released promptly. However, in the case of a sudden arrest, securing pretrial release is a lengthier process.

Those arrested by federal law enforcement are entitled to a prompt “detention” hearing before a federal magistrate judge. At the hearing, the magistrate judge will decide whether to … Read More »