What is an Alibi?

An alibi is a statement by a possible perpetrator of a crime, stating they were ‘elsewhere’ than the scene of the crime at the time the offence was committed.

Having an alibi means that there is evidence of the defendant being somewhere else at the time of the crime, and therefore they couldn’t have committed the crime.

PRINCIPLE of an Alibi in CPIA (1996)

Evidence in support of an alibi is defined in section 6A(3) Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA).

In CPIA (1996) an alibi is considered as evidence tending to show that:

  • by reason of the presence of the defendant
  • at a particular place or, in a particular area at a particular time

she or he was not, or was unlikely to have been, at the place where the offence is alleged to have been committed at the time of its alleged commission.

A defence statement that discloses an alibi must give particulars of it in accordance with section 6A(2) Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996.

Legal GUIDANCE on Providing an Alibi in the Defence Statement

The provisions of Part I of CPIA apply to alleged offences where the criminal investigation commenced on or after 1 April 1997. The defendant must give, in the defence statement, particulars of an alibi on which she or he intends to rely. This should include:

  • the name, address and date of birth of any witness the defendant believes is able to give evidence in support of the alibi, or as many of those details as are known to the accused when the statement is given
  • any information in the accused’s possession which might be of material assistance in identifying or finding such witness where the details above are not known to the accused when the statement is given.

The procedure introduced by the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 applies to offences where the investigation commenced on or after 1 April 1997.

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (Defence Disclosure Time Limits) Regulations 2011  specify time limits for disclosure by the defendant. The limits are 28 days for compulsory disclosure in Crown Court proceedings and 14 days for voluntary disclosure in magistrates’ court proceedings from the day on which the prosecutor complies or purports to comply with the initial duty to disclose.

For offences where the investigation commenced before that date, the old law applies.


When a defence statement containing particulars of an alibi is received, the Prosecution will:

  • check that the particulars of the alibi included in the statement are sufficient for police investigation. If not, they should request further information from the defence, i.e. where, when and with whom
  • when sending the defence statement to the police, request that they interview witnesses and forward statements to them. Request that the Police check the witnesses for any previous convictions.

The Police will provide a report on their investigations of the alibi.

If the police are unable to locate a witness at an address given in the defence statement, the Prosecution will notify the defence and request they supply any further information in their possession that might assist in tracing the witness.


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