What is the Defense of an Alibi?
When defendants use an alibi defense, they are stating that they could not have been at the scene of the crime because they were elsewhere. This type of defense acknowledges that someone accused of committing a crime could not have been in two places at the same time and could therefore not have committed the crime if he can demonstrate that he was otherwise engaged in a different location.
Tools of an Alibi Defense
Simply stating that the defendant was elsewhere at the time of the crime may not be enough to provide reasonable doubt for a strong alibi defense. An experienced attorney will want to provide evidence that the defendant’s claim is true. Testimony from witnesses who were with the defendant are commonly used in an alibi defense. Other tools that may be used include footage from videos and security cameras, credit or debit card records, phone records and GPS records.
Potential Weaknesses in an Alibi Defense
One of the greatest factors in an alibi defense is the credibility of a witness. If a witness is the only way to back up a claim that the defendant was somewhere other than the scene of the crime when it was committed, prosecutors may try to prove that the witness is unreliable or has a motive to lie in favor of the defendant. Family members and friends may have their credibility questioned because of their closeness with the defendant. Witnesses who have drug or alcohol problems or who may have been intoxicated during the time they were around the defendant may also have their claims strongly questioned by the prosecutor. One way that experienced lawyers combat these potential weaknesses is to include as many witnesses as possible to help collaborate the defendant’s alibi claim.
The Importance of Reasonable Doubt
The primary goal of providing an alibi defense is to raise reasonable doubt. This means that the defendant and the defense lawyer are not required to prove an alibi, but they are permitted to use it as a defense tool. The burden of proof still lies with the prosecutor to prove all facts of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, laws typically require that the prosecution be made aware of a potential alibi case within a certain amount of time, and the defendant may not be able to use an alibi defense if this requirement is not met. This requirement allows the prosecution the right of interviewing potential witnesses and examining any other aspects of the alibi case.
Any individual charged with committing a crime who wishes to use the alibi defense should contact a lawyer immediately. A skilled attorney can help examine the potential alibi defense. If the evidence is great enough in a defendant’s alibi defense, an experienced attorney may be able to have the charges dismissed entirely.