If the Hagerstown MD Best Criminal Defense Lawyer can prove that a client was not present at the time a crime occurred, the client is said to have an alibi. TV and movie characters often treat alibis as a way to evade the consequences of a crime, but alibis are a legitimate legal defense. For instance, if someone is accused of robbery and offers proof that they were elsewhere at the time, the alibi is considered successful.
An Alibi Doesn’t Mean Mandatory Testimony
Defendants can offer alibis without waiving their Fifth Amendment rights. If a witness can place the suspect anywhere other than the scene of the crime, he or she may offer an alibi. Using the example above: A robbery suspect decides not to testify, fearing that his or her criminal history will be used to diminish credibility. The suspects criminal defense attorney can call witnesses who may testify that they were somewhere else at the time the crime occurred.
Burden of Proof
A defendant offering an alibi doesn’t need to prove its accuracy; the burden of proof remains on the prosecutor. However, a jury and judge can consider the alibi’s credibility when deciding whether the prosecution has satisfied the burden of proof.
A Defendant Must Give an Alibi Before Trial
In most areas, if a criminal defendant is going to use an alibi, discovery rules require him or her to tell the prosecutor before the trial. Doing so allows the prosecutor to investigate the suspect’s alibi, and to form a strategy to disprove it.
A State Law Example of Alibi Evidence
To gain an understanding of how alibi laws work, consider New York’s law: Prosecutors have twenty days after an indictment to serve an alibi demand on a defendant. If that defendant plans to use an alibi defense, he or she must respond within eight days, unless granted an extension. The defendant’s response must identify where he/she was during the crime, it must list the names of any witnesses and it must provide witnesses’ contact information. Judges can exclude witness testimony if the person’s identity isn’t disclosed.
Criminal trials can be lengthy endeavours, and suspects often rely on alibis to avoid conviction. If you have been accused of a crime, but have an alibi, the Hagerstown MD Best Criminal Defense Lawyer can help you build a solid case and he or she can represent you during a trial.