Strategic Use of Alibi Defenses

Publication Date


Document Type

Book Chapter


Levine and Miller discuss the ways defense attorneys utilize alibi information in preparing for and presenting evidence in court. Throughout the chapter, the authors present original data from a small sample of practicing defense attorneys to give depth and validity to their discussion. The chapter provides a complete list and history of alibi notice rules for every state in the USA, providing needed context to the legal requirements that attorneys, and therefore defendants, must abide by in considering their trial strategy. The authors additionally discuss the strategic timing for when to present alibi evidence (within notice rules conditions) to ensure it is most effective without also opening up the potential for prosecutorial influence to weaken the corroboration prior to trial. Finally, the authors discuss two primary concerns: first, defense attorneys worry about (1) putting forward an alibi that is later determined to be incorrect, and (2) failing to utilize an alibi when it is present and has at least some corroboration. Case law and academic articles illustrate this uniquely non-affirmative defense, with defendants claiming not to be legally responsible because they could not have committed the crime due to being somewhere else entirely.