An alibi is simply evidence that the accused could not have committed a crime because he was somewhere else when it occurred. The people testifying to the whereabouts of the accused are called “alibi witnesses”. The alibi defense is simply a rebuttal of the state’s case. It does not take away the presumption of innocence or shift the burden of proof away from the defendant. Although a defendant is typically not required to reveal his defense or witnesses, an exception exists for the alibi defense in Louisiana. The Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes the district attorney is to make a written demand upon the defendant requiring the accused to provide the prosecution with the place of his whereabouts when the crime was committed along with the names and addresses of the witnesses he will use to establish the alibi. Once the notice of alibi is provided, the prosecutor is required to provide the defense the names and addresses of the witnesses it intends to use to place the accused at the crime scene and rebut the alibi.
There are some subtle implications with an alibi defense. First, in Louisiana, the state is not required to provide the defense with its witness list. However, the rules governing alibi require the state to identify the witnesses it will rely upon to place the accused at the crime scene. Secondly, an alibi can humanize the accused and could allow the jury to learn that he is employed and/or active with his family affairs should employment or attending a social gathering be presented as an alibi.
An alibi defense is good to use In conjunction with a mistaken identity defense. Most jurors do not want to believe that a witness is lying when they identify your client as a person committing a crime. However jurors are open to the possibility that an honest and sincere witness could be mistaken. A properly presented alibi defense allows the jurors to tap into that possibility and acquit your client. We recently used an alibi defense to acquit a client who was charged with a double homicide of two LSU students on the school’s campus. As part of the defense, we were able to establish that the defendant was working at a hotel and got off work at a time where it would have been virtually impossible for him to do the things the state’s witnesses said that they did in the moments leading up to the crime and make it to the campus in time to commit the murder. In addition to this alibi evidence, we established that other known violent offenders matching the accused’s physical description and utilizing the same modus operandi of this homicide were once implicated as suspects and identified as potential suspects by law enforcement. The defense was successful and the jury acquitted the client of murder.