Exculpatory evidence refers to evidence that can disprove the guilt of the person accused in a crime. This type of evidence favors the defendant or the accused contrary to inculpatory evidence which favors the victim of a crime.
Exculpatory evidence is vital particularly on the part of the person who was wrongly charged with a crime he or she did not commit at all. Under the law, police authorities who may be able to gather this type of evidence from witnesses are responsible for informing the prosecutor about this regardless whether or not they believe the testimony.
For his part, the prosecutor has the obligation to inform the accused individual and his legal counsel about such evidence. Failure to do so can lead the defendant to appeal the verdict on the case or even petition for its dismissal. Another possible consequence is a re-trial of the case. In some instances, it could also result in disciplinary actions against the people who withheld the exculpatory evidence such as the law enforcement officials.
During a court trial, the prosecution is tasked to present evidence to prove the guilt of the person accused. Prosecutors will then ask questions from witnesses who may have seen the actual commission of the crime. At this stage, inculpatory evidence is presented to prove the guilt of the defendant.
After the prosecution has presented its evidence, it’s the defense panel’s turn to present their witnesses. Their goal is prove the innocence of the accused by providing a different version of how the crime took place and detailing where the accused was at that time.