Can I show that I was somewhere else as a defense to a crime?


This is called an “alibi defense.”  Although an “alibi defense” is sometimes referred to as an affirmative defense, it is really just a denial that you committed the crime.  But Mississippi courts have said that it must be more than just a simple denial.  In order for it to be considered an alibi, the facts must be such that it would be physically impossible for you to be at the crime scene.  In other words, being in the next room at the time of the crime is probably not an alibi, but being in the next county is.  Even so, raising an alibi defense does not shift the burden of proof away from the prosecution having to prove every element of the crime against you.  In other words, you don’t have to prove that you were somewhere else; you simply can just raise the issue.  The prosecution will then have to disprove the alibi beyond a reasonable doubt.

For this reason, Uniform Rule of Circuit and County Court Practice 9.05 requires the defense, upon written demand from the prosecution, to provide the places where the defendant was at the time of the crime, and the names and contact information of any witness that can confirm it.

I have used alibi defenses in some cases, with varying degrees of success.  For example, the defense of “I was with my battalion in Iraq at the time they say the crime was committed” is a very good alibi defense, whereas “I was at my Mom’s house in Flowood, and my Mom will come testify for me” is not as good, as you can imagine.

But if you’ve been accused of a crime, you are going to want your lawyer to explore every possible defense you may have, and to exploit every weakness in the prosecution’s case.  If you need help with a criminal issue, give me a call at 601-991-1099.