A New Jersey Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer on Affirmative Defenses and Alibi

January 8, 2014

A New Jersey federal criminal defense lawyer might employ several strategies on behalf of a defendant. Two of these strategies are the use of an affirmative defense or an alibi.

An Affirmative Defense

An affirmative defense does not try to refute the actual criminal offense, but instead will look at mitigating factors. Some common affirmative defenses are entrapment, duress, justifiable act, self defense or mental illness. This can be a mistaken defense approach for the following reasons:

  • In many cases, an affirmative defense presents an opportunity for evidence to be presented to the jury that would normally be considered inadmissible. For example, this kind of defense may allow the prosecution to present evidence of similar things the defendant may have done in the past.
  • If the defense presents an affirmative defense argument, the court may shift the burden of proof onto the defense. Even if the defense is not required to prove the argument, the jury might reject it unless there is evidence to support it. It is common for jurors to conclude that the defendant is essentially admitting that he or she committed the crime and is now seeking an excuse. To counteract this, the defense will have to make a very compelling argument.

An Alibi

A common defense argument is an alibi. An alibi is evidence that the defendant was in another location than the scene of the crime at the time the criminal act took place. In many cases, an alibi does not help the defendant. In many cases, defendants wish to use friends or family members to provide an alibi. Jurors are likely to consider these witnesses as biased and may not believe the witness’ testimony.

As with an affirmative defense, an alibi opens the door for the court to shift the burden of proof to the defense. In other words, testimony alone may not be enough to persuade a jury that an alibi is legitimate. The defense may need to provide concrete evidence, such as surveillance camera footage of the defendant eating at a restaurant, for example.

Seeking Legal Counsel

If you have been charged with a crime, you may want to seek legal counsel from New Jersey federal defense attorneys. To arrange for a confidential appointment with a New Jersey federal criminal defense lawyer, please call the office of Tim Anderson at 732-212-2812.


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