• “In criminal law ‘alibi’ means elsewhere or in another place. It is a mode of defense to a criminal prosecution, where the party accused, in order to prove he could not have committed the crime with which he is charged[,] offers evidence to show that he was in another place at the time the alleged crime was committed.”
• Alibi is defined as:
(1) a defense based on the physical impossibility of a defendant’s guilt by placing the defendant in a location other than the scene of the crime at the relevant time;
(2) the fact or state of having been elsewhere when an offense was committed.
• Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “alibi” as: “the plea of having been at the time of the commission of an act elsewhere than at the place of commission; the fact or state of having been elsewhere at the time.”
Compared to mere evidence of the defendant’s absence from the crime scene
• [Mere] evidence of a defendant’s absence from a crime scene is not an “alibi” defense. Rather, it is a rebuttal of the prosecution’s contention the defendant was present and thus capable of committing the crime.
• An eyewitness to a crime who indicates only that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime is not an alibi witness.
Procedure for raising an alibi defense
• [A] defendant is required by statute to file a notice of alibi if he intends to present an alibi evidence at trial.
• For more information on raising an alibi defense, please review Notice of Alibi.
• If the defendant . . . timely files a notice of alibi, the prosecutor is required to file a specific statement containing the date [and exact place] the defendant was alleged to have committed the crime.
• For more information on responding to a notice of alibi, please review Reply by the Prosecutor.
• The defendant may then file a second statement if the dates [or places] do not match.
• For more information on the sanctions and remedies for not complying with this procedure, please review Sanctions and Remedies for Non-Compliance.
As applied to prosecutions for conspiracy
• [T]he defense of alibi may be invoked in a criminal conspiracy prosecution.
Purposes of the alibi statute
• “‘The alibi statute ‘is not intended ‘to compel the exclusion of evidence or mandate retrials for purely technical errors.’’’”
Kroegher v. State, 774 N.E.2d 1029, 1032 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), trans. denied(quoting Griffin v. State, 664 N.E.2d 373, 375 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996)(quoting Wilson v. State, 536 N.E.2d 1037, 1041 (Ind. Ct. App. 1989), trans. denied (quoting Baxter v. State, 522 N.E.2d 362, 369 (Ind. 1988), reh’g denied)))
• The General Assembly enacted the alibi statute to serve two main purposes.
• First, the statute protects “the defendant’s ability to establish the defense by requiring the State to commit to a particular place and time that it intends to prove at trial as being the particulars of the crime.”
• Recognizing that some defendants will fabricate an alibi, the second purpose of the statute is to allow the State to receive notice before trial regarding the place the defendant claims to have been when the crime was committed.
• [T]his notice allows the State to investigate the alibi to discover its truthfulness, in which case the State should drop the charges, or its falsity, in which case the State can seek evidence to prove the falsity.
• Several legitimate state objectives are furthered by alibi statutes: “First and foremost, by requiring the accused to reveal his alibi defense in advance, the element of surprise is greatly reduced and the fairness of the adversary system thereby enhanced. Second, the likelihood of government investigation following advance notice discourages defendants from fabricating alibis, a deterrent that is lost when alibis can be introduced without warning during the trial. Finally, notice rules promote the orderly administration of justice by preventing unnecessary continuances and by eliminating trials in those instances where post-notice investigation reveals an alibi’s merits.”
Washington v. State, 840 N.E.2d 873, 881 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006), trans. denied(quoting Baxter v. State, 522 N.E.2d 362, 368-69 (Ind. 1988), reh’g denied)(“The court listed several objectives furthered by alibi statutes like IC 35-36-4-3(b). For instance, the court stated . . . .”)