California Alibi Law & Defense
To have an alibi defense means that the defendant has evidence than can show that he or she was in another place at the time an alleged crime was committed, and therefore, he or she couldn't have physically committed the alleged crime.
The most common alibi is established by a person other than the defendant. The person, or alibi, will testify that he or she was with the defendant at the time the alleged offense occurred, and therefore, the defendant could not have personally committed the crime..
Other alibi evidence may be one or more of the following: video evidence that shows the defendant was in another place at the time of the alleged crime, photographs, signed documents (such as a signed contract or a notary signed by the defendant on a particular date), bank receipts, credit card transactions with location signatures, telephone cell tower logs showing the defendant's phone was in another location, employment time cards, etc.
A defendant does not have to prove that he or she has an alibi; the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt lies with the district attorney; however, without the criminal defense attorney presenting some evidence of an alibi the jury will never learn of the evidence that supports an alibi.
The presentation of alibi evidence does not by itself win a case. The alibi evidence is evaluated on a case by case basis and the amount of importance that is placed on the alibi evidence is determined by the jury. For example, if the defendant's mom testifies that her son (the defendant) was asleep in his room all weekend and therefore could not have committed a crime on a particular weekend it would not be considered very strong alibi evidence as the defendant's mom is a very bias witness; however, evidence that the defendant was in a coma in a hospital on the same weekend, as testified to by several doctors with medical records, is very strong evidence that the defendant could not have committed a crime on a particular weekend.
The evidence of alibi is always allowed in criminal court but whether or not the evidence of alibi is sufficient to overcome the balance of the evidence in a criminal case is the important part. Alibi witnesses that are close family members of the defendant (or close friends) are considered very weak alibis for the most part (many exceptions apply where the credibility of the particular witness is very strong). Stronger alibis exist in such things as video evidence, photographs, and unbiased witnesses.
Remember, an alibi defense generally only works where the defendant is accused of being in a certain place at a certain time. The defense of alibi does not work in cases where it does not matter where the defendant was at the time the crime was completed. For example, if a defendant is charged with consipiracy to commit murder (an agreement between two or more people to commit murder at some later time), it does not matter if the defendant was not present at the time of the murder as the defendant is not charged with personally committing the crime.
In sum, the defendant does not need to prove his or her alibi, but if evidence is presented that the defendant could not have committed the alleged crime because he or she was somewhere else at the time the crime was committed than that alibi evidence, if believed by the jury, might be sufficient to raise reasonable doubt in a criminal case.
Inconsistent defenses: In criminal cases it is permissible to have two or more defenses that are inconsistent with one another. For example, it is proper to argue "I have an alibi who will testify that I wasn't present when the victim was killed; however, even if I was present at the time the victim was killed I acted in self-defense." These inconsistent defenses are fine for negotiating settlements with the district attorney or the judge, but inconsistent defenses at trial are generally weak defenses in the opinion of this author.
To learn more about the law, procedure, and defenses associated with the evidence of an alibi in a California criminal case contact the law office of attorney Christopher Dorado.
Attorney Dorado dedicates 100% of his law practice to criminal defense. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are availabe 24/7 to answer all of your criminal defense questions. Consultations are provided at no cost to the accused.
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