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Using An Alibi In Your Criminal Defense Case


The alibi defense, in which you claim that you could not have committed the crime because you were somewhere else when it occurred, is one of the simplest defenses that defendants can use at a criminal trial.  You do not have to graduate from law school to understand the concept of alibi.  It is a common theme in detective fiction and in “murder mystery” games played by retirees at dinner parties and by children at summer camps.  Since forensic science has advanced so much in the past several decades, alibi defenses are less common than they were when your grandparents were young.  Today, alibi defenses are more common, and more relevant, in certain types of criminal cases than in others.  As with any type of defense, the alibi defense can backfire unless you anticipate every possible counterargument and think of a way to refute it.  To find the best defense strategy for your case, including but not limited to the alibi defense, contact a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer.

When Is Alibi an Applicable Defense?

“Alibi” is a Latin word that means “somewhere else.”  When you use the alibi defense, you are claiming innocence on the grounds that you were not at the crime scene when the crime occurred.  Therefore, the alibi defense is only applicable to criminal charges where you are only guilty if you were in a particular place.  These are some crimes where you can be acquitted if you present a convincing alibi defense:

  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Assault, battery, or both
  • Violating a provision of a court order that requires you to stay a certain distance away from a particular person or place

The alibi defense does not demonstrate that you are innocent of crimes that involve conspiracy.  For example, you can still be guilty of drug trafficking conspiracy even if you were not in the car that transported the drugs.  You can still be convicted if the prosecution proves that you communicated with co-conspirators about the plans to transport the drugs or the associated exchange of money.  You can also be convicted of robbery or burglary even if you never personally went to the site of the crime.  In the Internet age, the alibi defense is even less useful for fighting charges of financial crimes such as money laundering or fraud.

Building a Successful Alibi Defense

Many alibi defenses involve a defendant or witness testifying that the defendant was in a particular place other than the crime scene when the crime occurred.  Prosecutors have the right to cross-examine anyone that the defense summons to testify, and they will try to find inconsistencies in the testimony or even openly antagonize and intimidate the witness to get him or her to misspeak.  Therefore, it is best to corroborate your alibi defense with surveillance camera footage or time-stamped and location-stamped cell phone photos.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.



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