You may have heard someone refer to their alibi in a tv show or movie as a means to explain why they couldn’t have committed a crime they may be accused of. So what is an alibi? It’s provable evidence that you were somewhere else when a crime took place.
For example, if you are charged with an armed robbery, but you can provide evidence or proof that you were sitting at your desk at work – that’s your alibi. Acceptable evidence includes camera footage, a coworker seeing you, a punched timecard, etc.
If you’re a defendant in a case you may use an alibi defense without giving up your constitutional right against self-incrimination (i.e., the right to remain silent). This means you might rely on any witness or evidence that proves you were in a different location that would otherwise be admissible without having to testify personally.
Why would you decide not to testify personally? Here’s a major reason:
There may be other crimes that you have also have been charged with that you’d like to avoid being questioned about, even if the crime that the alibi applies is the only one charged, the prosecutor could begin to attack your credibility, possibly even bringing up prior convictions, which could be enough to cause a jury to disbelieve the alibi unless it is iron clad.
Luckily, if you use an alibi defense, you don’t assume a responsibility for proving the validity of the alibi. The burden of proving a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt remains always remains with the prosecution. Of course, a judge or jury can weigh the credibility of alibi evidence just like any other evidence when determining whether the prosecution has met that burden. Simply suggesting an alibi will not automatically erase a mountain of other evidence that conclusively proves the alibi is false.
However, most states require that a defendant in a criminal case disclose an intention to rely on alibi evidence at trial. This normally comes up during the process of exchanging information about the facts of a case called “discovery.” This gives prosecutors an opportunity to investigate the validity of the alibi and either prepare to undermine its credibility or, if proved true, to drop the charges against the defendant.
If you, or someone you know, has been charged with a crime – even if you don’t have an alibi, you should contact and experienced criminal defense attorney. Having someone like Russell Spatz on your side to help investigate your case and devise appropriate defense is the best way to tackle your current situation. Give him a call today at (305) 442-0200.