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Anyone who has watched any of the seemingly hundreds of police drama shows out there has likely heard the word “alibi” more times than they can remember. An alibi is proof that shows that a person wasn’t at the scene of a crime as the crime was being committed. Though this form of evidence is often looked at suspiciously in police drama shows, it makes for a very strong defense in the real world.
It’s important to realize that employing an alibi defense doesn’t mean that a person has to testify at their own trial. If a waitress at a local bar can attest to the fact that she was serving a defendant at 10 p.m., while the crime was committed across town at that same time, the waitress can serve as an alibi. Bringing her in to testify, however, doesn’t mean that the defendant must also testify.
As soon as a defendant takes the stand, it means that the prosecutor gets to grill them. This can lead to mistakes on the part of the defendant, and it can definitely damage their credibility. Luckily, since a defendant keeps their right to stay silent at trial, their alibi can provide key evidence of their innocence without compromising their own defense.
Just because a defendant provides alibi evidence at their trial doesn’t mean that they have the burden to prove the credibility of their alibi. Proving that a defendant is guilty is always the burden of the state. The court, however, can take the credibility of the alibi witness or evidence into account when deciding whether or not the accused is guilty.
Unlike the old movies and television shows that our parents used to watch, courtroom trials don’t often have those “gotcha!” surprises that we’re so thrilled with seeing. In the majority of cases, the attorneys for both sides have a good idea of how the questioning of a witness will go. This is due to the prior notice of evidence that must be given to both sides of the trial.
This prior notice is known as discovery. During discovery, a defendant and their attorney must let the prosecutor know if they plan on providing an alibi defense. This gives the state enough time to properly investigate the alibi, judge its credibility and prepare to weaken that credibility in court.
It’s important to know that, much like every other legal matter in America, rules of alibis will vary by state. The amount of time a person has to produce an alibi, for instance, can differ significantly between two locales. Rules of evidence related to the alibi can vary as well. A person’s defense attorney will know all of the nuances of their particular state’s laws.
To talk to an attorney about using an alibi as a legal defense in court, call Shahin Zamir at 713-223-8900.