If you have been charged with a criminal offense, one of the first things you should do is to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. You and your attorney can then begin to plan your defense. The approach you take to your defense will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case; however, there are some common defense strategies that will likely be considered. One defense you have likely heard of is the defense of alibi. An alibi defense only works under very specific conditions, as explained by a criminal defense lawyer from Petersen Law Office.
What Is an Alibi Defense?
The defense of alibi is a defense asserted by a defendant that effectively says “I would not have committed the crime for which I am charged because I was somewhere else at the time in question.” Generally, when a defendant asserts a defense of alibi, the defendant has at least one (and preferably several) witnesses who are prepared to testify that he/she was somewhere else when the crime was committed. The success of an alibi defense often hinges on the credibility of the witnesses. If your only witness is your spouse or parent, for example, you have a weak alibi defense because those people are more likely to lie for you. On the other hand, if you can present ten strangers who saw you in a restaurant at the time in question, you have a strong alibi witness.
The State’s Burden of Proof
In the United States criminal justice system, the State (through the prosecuting attorney) has the burden of proving that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Most laws and procedural rules within the criminal justice system reflect this burden. The prosecutor, for example, is required to “discover” to the defense all evidence and witnesses it intends to produce at trial. This rule assures that the defendant is able to properly prepare his or her defense. Just as the State is required to alert the defense of witnesses and evidence to be used at trial, there are certain things the defense must also discover to the State regarding its defense. As a general rule, a defendant is not required to notify the prosecution of its defense strategy; however, if a defendant plans to claim the defense of alibi, there is typically a notification requirement and procedural rules that must be followed.
Nebraska Alibi Notice Requirement
Like most states, the State of Nebraska has a notice requirement that applies if a defendant plans to claim an alibi defense. Located in Nebraska Revised Statute Section 29-1927, the requirement states:
No evidence offered by a defendant for the purpose of establishing an alibi to an offense shall be admitted in the trial of the case unless notice of intention to rely upon an alibi is given to the county attorney and filed with the court at least thirty days before trial, except that such notice shall be waived by the presiding judge if necessary in the interests of justice.
Section 29-1927 requires a defendant to notify the prosecuting attorney of his/her intent to assert an alibi defense and provide relevant information related to that defense. The prosecuting attorney then has the opportunity to investigate that alibi claim. If the prosecuting attorney does not believe the alibi defense, and plans to introduce evidence to that effect, he/she is also required to notify the defendant of that fact and share that evidence. Of particular importance is the timing requirement within the rule. If you do have a viable alibi defense, yet you fail to notify the prosecuting attorney about that defense within the required time frame, you could be prohibited from using the defense at trial. If, after investigating your claim of alibi, the prosecuting attorney believes it is a strong claim there is a chance the charges will be dismissed. If the claim appears weak or questionable, it will be left up to a judge or jury to decide whether to believe your alibi defense.
Contact a Nebraska Criminal Defense Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska, consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense lawyer at Petersen Law Office as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.