What is an Alibi? Learn Basic About Alibi with Example

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What is an Alibi?

You were in Alabama on a fishing trip and you have been charged with a murder that took place in NY; providing evidence of your stay in Alabama is an Alibi.

We all are familiar with the word “alibi” that we often come across in novels, on TV or if we’re studying criminal law as a subject. An alibi or a plea of alibi is of great significance when it comes to defending an accused in a criminal trial.

It’s a smart defense which shows the accused was somewhere else when the crime in respect of which he’s made liable, was committed. Plea of alibi is strong evidence that can help in releasing the accused. It’s purely a defense of criminal cases and has nothing to do with civil matters.

Explained Alibi by Illustration:

Alibi can better be explained with the help of an illustration. Let’s take an example of a murder case.

Suppose, Albert is accused of committing a murder in Queens, New York. He’s arrested and made to stand in the witness box. His attorney then submits before the court the plea of alibi as evidence. He shows his air tickets and hotel bills that establish that he was in Florida on the date when the murder was committed and returned 2 days later.

The Court however will conduct an inquiry in order to find if the evidence shown before the courts is true or framed.

Self- incriminating testimony

When the defendant uses his alibi right, sometimes it may turn out against him if he has committed other crimes as well.

However, an alibi doesn’t affect their constitutional right of self-incrimination. Self-incrimination means any testimony that acts against the person who’s giving it. So the constitution gives protection against it when the testimony of a witness cannot be used against him to render him accused of any offense.

For example, if a person’s testimony for his alibi will render him accused of another crime, let’s say if in Florida he was drunk driving or harassing girls and all this is found out by a witness’s statement then he will not be charged for these crimes.

He can even make others give the statement establishing his presence somewhere else while he can just choose to remain silent.

Burden of proof

Normally it’s on the prosecution to prove the defendant guilty by presenting evidence against them. However, in an alibi, since the defendant brings the plea, he is liable to show evidence of his presence somewhere else during the crime.

An alibi brings the case in favor of the defendant by putting him under reasonable doubt that he actually might not have committed the crime and he can be acquitted on the basis of that doubt.  The burden of proving the alibi valid and the defendant responsible for the crime beyond any reasonable doubt is still on the prosecution. The prosecution is liable to prove that the alibi is false which means that the defendant doesn’t have any burden to prove it valid.

An alibi can only be rendered admissible during the trial stage. One cannot just show up at any stage of the trial and say that they just found out that they were somewhere else.

An alibi can be considered for releasing the accused on bail as well, whether it’s bail before or after the arrest. 

Facts about Alibi: 

  • False alibis are more prevalent than the actual ones all over the world.
  • Accusations of extramarital affairs see the use of alibi the most.
  • There's even an organization called the Alibi agency or Alibi Network who falsifies alibi evidence.
  • There was a movie about the life of those who worked in the alibi agency named “The Alibi”.
  • An alibi must be proven otherwise, it will be regarded as a false alibi.
  • A false alibi might result in proving the accused person guilty.
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