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How Does Having an Alibi Work in a Criminal Case?

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

For a person charged with a crime (the defendant), having an alibi can be a powerful defense that can help get the charges dismissed. An alibi is evidence that shows a defendant was in some other place when the crime occurred. However, having an alibi is not a guarantee that the defendant will be found not guilty.  

Ways to Establish an Alibi

If you can show a judge or jury that you were not at the crime scene, you create reasonable doubt about your guilt. Here are some alibis that can be used as evidence:

  • Family and friends. Family and friends can testify to establish that the defendant was with them at the time the crime occurred. However, because of their close relationship to the defendant, their credibility as alibis might be called into question by the judge or jury.
  • Independent witnesses. Having a complete stranger or a witness that is not close to the defendant—such as a waitress at a restaurant or a store clerk—can strengthen an alibi defense. A judge or jury may be more likely to rely on this testimony.
  • More than one witness. If more than one person can substantiate the defendant’s alibi, this can also strengthen his defense case.
  • Other evidence. Video footage, photos, phone records, credit or debit card records, and GPS records can all be powerful evidence to help show that the defendant was not at the crime scene.

An Attorney Can Help You Raise the Alibi Defense

A defendant must notify the prosecutor of his intent to raise the alibi defense before trial. If he fails to do so, it’s likely he won’t be allowed to raise it later. He must also provide the prosecutor with a list of witnesses and the physical evidence or documents that support his alibi and that are intended to be used at trial.

If you were charged with a crime and believe you have an alibi, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help build your defense. At Zimmer, Duncan & Cole, LLP, we will fight to have your charges dismissed or your sentence reduced. Start an online chat today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how we can assist you.


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