When Does A Criminal Defence Lawyer Not Look for Evidence Or Alibi References?

The recent popularity of true crime podcasts has had many people wondering why criminal defence lawyers might decide to choose to not follow up on alibis or introduce certain evidence. Here are some of the strategic reasons that a criminal defence lawyer might not seek out certain evidence or alibi references.

If the alibi witness is unreliable

If the alibi witness is unreliable and the prosecution is likely to find out they are lying or confused about the details this can be more damaging for the defence than merely relying on the prosecution to produce enough witnesses to prove their case. Alibi witnesses who were under heavy influences of alcohol or other drugs, or subject to pressure from the defendant from the defendant or their family to produce evidence may not prove reliable under cross-examination.

If the defendant has confessed to the crime or a related crime

If the defendant has confessed that the crime has occurred to their defence lawyer, the defence lawyer may not seek out testing of potential incriminating evidence such as fibre testing. They may instead rely on the fact that the prosecution need to both order the testing and work out how to connect those fibres to their client (i.e. find the items that the fibres may have come from and prove that the defendant owned such items).

If the evidence might prove damaging to the defendants character assessment

In some cases the defence may be reluctant to introduce evidence that paints the defendants character poorly. For example, if the defendant has been sending threatening text messages to their ex-partner but denies assaulting them, the defence may choose not to seek out the records of phone calls and text messages because of the overall impression these create (regardless of the fact that it may not directly implicate the defendant in the crime).

If the evidence can be assessed in multiple ways

In some cases evidence can be assessed in different ways depending on your perspective; for example, where the victim has made threats to the defendant's children this can provide a motive for crimes to the victim, but also a defence where the defendant is found guilty. The criminal defence lawyer makes a strategic decision as to whether to introduce the evidence.

It is important to remember that the pressure is on the prosecution to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than the defence to present an alternative case. A strong criminal defence lawyer is important in managing your trial strategy and managing the scope of any penalties if you are found guilty of a crime.