How does an alibi defense work?

Law Blog

An alibi is a criminal defense strategy based on evidence that the defendant was somewhere else other than the crime scene when the crime occurred and, therefore, couldn't have perpetrated the crime. That evidence may be in the form of witnesses or video footage to sustain an alibi defense. If you're accused of a criminal offense and wish to use an alibi as part of your defense, contact a criminal lawyer immediately. Read on to find out how an alibi defense works.

Alibi defense

Suppose you are facing charges for selling drugs to an underage boy two blocks from their school. In this case, your attorney can present proof that you were at work at the time of the drug sale incident and, thus, not the one who perpetrated the crime. Any individual who was with you or saw you at work at the time of the felony can attest to these facts. You could present witnesses who may include your boss and co-workers. Generally, you're not mandated to testify on your own behalf to put up this defense.

Additionally, your criminal attorney can table camera surveillance footage or photos captured at the time of the felony that show you present at your place of work. If you work in an office where you have to swipe a keycard or an ID to enter, the archives of the card swipes can provide further support for your alibi defense.

Strengths of an alibi defense

If your alibi defense is using witness accounts, the trustworthiness of the witness will be scrutinized by the jury or judge. The witnesses should be of good character. Generally, a witness who doesn't have a close relationship to the accused can build up a stronger alibi defense. The defendant does not have to prove to the judge or jury that the alibi is truthful. It's the prosecution which has the burden of establishing the credibility of the defendant's alibi.

Having more than one witness can also strengthen your alibi defense. If four co-workers who have known you for varied periods of time can testify that you were at your workplace, the defense is much stronger compared to a testimony from a single co-worker. Photos, video footage and swipe card records can be the best alibi evidence, given that this evidence is not reliant on a witness being credible or believable.

If you intend to use alibi evidence in court, your criminal attorney will notify the prosecutor beforehand to allow the prosecutor to examine the alibi and challenge it.


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