If you have been charged with a crime but you weren't there at the time it occurred, then an alibi defense would be applicable to your case. Here are three things you should know about this defense, along with two actual cases where an alibi was the primary defense. 

1. You will need to find ways to strengthen this defense.

You need to offer evidence to increase the credibility of your defense. Types of evidence could include:

  • Witnesses who can confirm you were where you said you were. It helps if they aren't relatives or close friends.
  • Items such as movie ticket stubs or store receipts with the time and date printed on them.
  • Testimony from you or your witnesses about details of where you were. Your story needs to "check out." If you said you were watching a soccer game with friends, you would need to know the score and the teams playing.
  • Photos or video evidence that you were where you said you were at the time you claimed.
  • Time card or "prox" card evidence if you were at work.
  • GPS tracking.

In one case, two brothers were accused of murdering a man who was a government witness in drug and murder cases. The men had witnesses that would testify that they were somewhere else at the time of the murder. However, it took evidence from a subway Metro-card to show the men were five miles away at the time to motivate the prosecution to drop the case against them. The defense lawyer retrieved the card from one of the brothers' wallets, which was in storage at the jail where he was held.

2. You may need to overcome the jury's misconceptions of the alibi defense, and there are no guarantees that having an alibi will exonerate you.

Due to media exposure, some people may be suspicious of the word alibi. Your attorney may need to remind the jury that it is just a legal term that refers to evidence that you were elsewhere when the incident occurred, and not a phony excuse.

Since it is still the prosecution's job to prove that you are "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," it should not be necessary to demonstrate "ironclad" evidence of innocence, though sometimes jurors think it does.

3. You will have to notify the police and prosecution of your intent to use it.

Since notice of an alibi defense is required, this is another reason to make sure your alibi stands the credibility test. Police will be checking out the details given and interviewing any witnesses that you have named. 

Sometimes, an accused person can feel very vulnerable in police custody, especially during interrogation (for a variety of reasons) and succumb to police pressure to confess. This can be the case even when they have an iron-clad alibi. Many people who serve as jurors believe erroneously that an innocent person would never confess.

You will need to be firm and repeat your alibi consistently or else invoke your right to silence when being questioned (unless you have an attorney present). Otherwise, you could be convicted of the crime, despite having one.

An alibi is a good thing to have if you are accused of a crime, but it is not foolproof as a defense. Think hard about things you can do to strengthen it (such as in the Jones case with the remembered MetroCard) and you will have to stick to it vigorously or your alibi could be discounted by the court.

Consult a criminal defense attorney at A Affordable Attorney Gerling Law Group who can assist you with advice and strategies to make a successful defense against criminal charges.