The alibi is simply proof that the accused could not have committed the crime, because when it happened, he was somewhere else. People who testify to the defendants’ whereabouts are called “alibi witnesses.” Defending an alibi is simply a refutation of a state case. It does not relieve the presumption of innocence or condemn the burden of proof on the defendant. Although a defendant is usually not required to disclose his or her defense or witnesses, there is an exception to defending an alibi in Louisiana. The Louisiana Criminal Code authorizes the district attorney to ask the defendant in writing to provide the defendant with a prosecution of the place where the crime was committed, along with the names and addresses of the witnesses he uses to establish the alibi. Once the alibi has been notified, the public prosecutor is required to provide the defense with the names and addresses of the witnesses he or she intends to use to place the accused at the scene and refute the alibi.
There are some subtle consequences to defending an alibi. First, in Louisiana, the state is not required to provide the defense with its list of witnesses. However, the rules governing the alibi require the state to identify the witnesses it will rely on to place the accused at the scene. Second, an alibi can humanize the defendant and could tell the jury that he is employed and / or actively involved in his family affairs if the job or attending a social gathering were presented as an alibi.
Defending the alibi is good to use in conjunction with the wrong defense of identity. Most jurors do not want to believe that a witness is lying when they identify your client as the person who committed the crime. However, jurors are open to the possibility that an honest and sincere witness could be confused. Properly presented defense alibi allows jurors to use this opportunity and free the client. We recently used an alibi defense to free a client who was accused of double-killing two LSU students on campus. As part of the defense, we were able to prove that the accused works in a hotel and left work at a time when it would be practically impossible for him to do things that state witnesses said they did in moments leading up to crime and get to the premises in time, to commit murder. In addition to this evidence of the alibi, we found that other known violent offenders who matched the accused’s physical description and used the same method of murder were once suspected and identified as potential suspects by law enforcement. The defense was successful and the jury acquitted the murder client.