After-Discovered Evidence Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of After-Discovered Evidence, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is After-Discovered Evidence?

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History and Meaning of After-Discovered Evidence

After-discovered evidence is a term used in legal proceedings to refer to any evidence that was not available or known about during the trial, but that would have had a significant impact on the outcome of the case. It is often used in the context of criminal cases, where new evidence comes to light that could exonerate a defendant or prove their guilt.

The term after-discovered evidence is most commonly used in relation to post-conviction proceedings, where a convicted individual seeks to have their conviction overturned on the basis of new evidence. In order for the evidence to be considered after-discovered, it must not have been available at the time of trial and must be of such a nature that it would have had a significant impact on the case.

Examples of After-Discovered Evidence

  • In a murder trial, a witness comes forward after the trial with new testimony that places the blame on someone else entirely. This would be considered after-discovered evidence.
  • A defendant is convicted of embezzlement, but after the trial, it is discovered that the company's accounting records were incorrect and the defendant had not actually taken any money. This new evidence would be considered after-discovered evidence.
  • In a sexual assault case, a DNA test is performed after the trial that proves definitively that the accused is not the father of the victim's child. This evidence could be considered after-discovered if it was not available at the time of the trial.

Legal Terms Similar to After-Discovered Evidence

  • Newly discovered evidence: Similar to after-discovered evidence, this term refers to evidence that was not available at the time of the trial but that could have a significant impact on the case.
  • Brady material: Refers to evidence that is favorable to the defense in a criminal case and that the prosecution is required to disclose to the defense. Failure to disclose such evidence can be grounds for an appeal.
  • Habeas corpus: A legal action that allows a person who is imprisoned to challenge the legality of their detention. This is often used in conjunction with after-discovered evidence to seek a new trial or overturn a conviction.