An alibi witness is a defense to a criminal charge. Having an alibi means that you were not present in the location were the alleged offense took place. In New Jersey, unlike in some other jurisdictions, there is a requirement that the defendant furnish information about the alibi witness prior to trial The rule is follows:
- (a) Alibi. If a defendant intends to rely in any way on an alibi, within 10 days after a written demand by the prosecutor the defendant shall furnish a signed alibi, stating the specific place or places at which the defendant claims to have been at the time of the alleged offense and the names and addresses of the witnesses upon whom the defendant intends to rely to establish such alibi. Within 10 days after receipt of such alibi, the prosecutor shall, on written demand, furnish the defendant or defendant’s attorney with the names and addresses of the witnesses upon whom the State intends to rely to establish defendant’s presence at the scene of the alleged offense. The trial court may order such amendment or amplification as the interest of justice requires.
- (b) Failure to Furnish. If the information required in paragraph (a) is not furnished, the court may refuse to allow the party in default to present witnesses at trial as to defendant’s absence from or presence at the scene of the alleged offense, or make such other order or grant such adjournment, or delay during trial, as the interest of justice requires.
As you can see, if the proper procedure is not followed, the defendant can be barred from using the alibi witness as a defense. However, an alibi defense is a little different then some other defense since the defendant is claiming complete innocence. Therefore, it is my opinion that even if proper procedure is not followed initially, the court would likely provide time to cure the error.
Nonetheless, you do not want to be in the position to have your innocence decided by procedural issue.
If you have an alibi defense to your criminal or traffic matter, it is advisable to contact an attorney who is familiar with the court rules and has assisted others who also used an alibi as a defense. This strategy of choosing a New Jersey criminal or traffic lawyer is obviously rational. No matter what the situation may be, you want to have an attorney who has experience handling the type of case you have.