It is not uncommon for a defendant to defend against his or her charges by offering the testimony of a witness who supports the defendant’s alibi. Recently, a New Jersey court assessed to what extent the State is permitted to weaken a defendant’s defense by questioning an alibi witness regarding his or her earlier silence, in a case in which the defendant was charged with robbery and other crimes. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is important to consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State is permitted to use against you at trial.
Facts of the Case
Allegedly, the defendant and another man entered a shoe store at night. One of the men pulled out a gun, and both men directed the women working in the store to lie on the floor in the back room, after which they tied the hands and feet of the women. The women gave the men the combination to the safe, and the men accessed the safe and removed money and then left. A glove was found at the store that was later determined to have the defendant’s DNA. Additionally, one of the women working at the time of the incident identified that defendant when presented with an array of photos.
It is reported that the defendant was charged with robbery, kidnapping, and other crimes, but only the robbery and kidnapping charges proceeded to trial. At trial, the defendant presented two alibi witnesses. A hearing was held during the trial on the issue of whether the State could cross-examine the second alibi witness regarding her prior silence, after which the court found in favor of the State. The defendant was ultimately convicted. He then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing the State to cross-examine the alibi witness.