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Information that increases a defendant’s probability of innocence or absolutely relieves them of liability. Often used to describe evidence in a criminal trial that justifies, excuses, or creates reasonable doubt about a defendant’s alleged actions or intentions.

Conversely, inculpatory evidence demonstrates culpability or legal responsibility for a given act.

The Brady Rule (established in Brady v. Maryland (1963))  requires that, in order to honor the U.S Constitution’s guarantee of due process to defendants, prosecutors must reveal any exculpatory evidence they discover to defendants.

Many contracts, wills, and trusts contain exculpatory clauses aimed at protecting certain parties from liability for negligence or wrongful acts.

Related terms:

[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]