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Mark I. Cohen, ESQ. NYC Criminal Attorney

What Is The Alibi Defense?


As much as it is a commonly used term, not many people understand the meaning of the term “alibi.” If you or someone you know currently stands accused of a crime, you need to learn the meaning of alibi to understand when and how to use such a defense. Additionally, as a defendant, it is vital that you reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney, even if you have an alibi defense. A qualified defense attorney can help you use such a defense appropriately.

The term alibi was borrowed from the Latin language. Generally, the term means “somewhere else.”

When it comes to criminal law, an alibi is simply evidence that proves a defendant couldn’t have committed the crime they stand accused of because they were not at the scene of the crime at the time the crime was committed. Alibi is evidence that proves a defendant was somewhere else other than the place where the crime in question was committed at the time the crime was committed.

When using the alibi defense, you don’t have to give up your constitutional right against self-incrimination (that is, the right to remain silent). Generally, you don’t have to give a personal testimony if you choose to use the alibi defense. Other witnesses’ accounts or evidence can help you prove that you were in a different location during the time the crime in question was committed. Such would be considered admissible in court even without you having to make a personal statement. Nonetheless, if you wish to testify, you can do so, but make sure you consult your attorney before deciding to testify personally.

Alibi Defenses and the Requirement of Proving Guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The fact that you present an alibi defense doesn’t erase the need for the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you present your alibi and fail to convince the jury or judge that you were not at the crime scene, the prosecution must still prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that even if you were at the crime scene, the prosecution must still prove that you committed the crime in question. Generally, an unbelievable alibi doesn’t equal guilt.

Proving an Alibi

Fortunately, you don’t need to use the “beyond a reasonable doubt” evidentiary standard when proving your alibi. Whether an alibi defense helps you or not is not dependent on your ability to prove your claim beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, it is dependent on whether the judge or jury believes your alibi to be true.

Affirmative and Ordinary Defenses

When it comes to criminal law, some defenses are affirmative, whereas others are ordinary. An affirmative defense such as an insanity defense imposes the burden of proof on a defendant. In contrast, an ordinary defense such as an alibi defense imposes the burden of proof on the prosecution. Generally, it is up to the prosecutor to discredit the defense beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to an ordinary defense.

Contact Us for Legal Help

Whether or not you have an alibi defense, you must work with a skilled criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges. To receive legal assistance, contact the skilled NYC criminal defense attorney Mark I. Cohen, Esq., at 212-732-0002 today.


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