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Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule

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Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule

Hearsay is any information gathered by one person from another person who has first-hand knowledge of the information. This information may involve a condition, event, or object of which the person gathering the information has no first-hand knowledge. In other words, the person did not have any direct or personal experience and cannot testify in court about it. Information that is second-hand is typically not admissible in court unless it falls under specific exceptions.

Can Hearsay Evidence Be Admitted through Another Person's Testimony?

Yes. Even if the person with the first-hand knowledge is available to testify, the second-hand evidence can be admitted under the following circumstances:

  • Statements Made to Get Medical Treatment: The assumption that makes this statement admissible is that people will tell the truth about their symptoms to obtain proper medical treatment.
  • Statements Said under Stress: This type of statement is referred to as an “excited utterance.” The statement made under stress is viewed as admissible if it was offered by a person who heard the words spoken.
  • Present Sense Hearsay: This is a statement made about what a person experienced in a particular moment.
  • Public Records: A record made in the course of business is admissible. For example, a police report is not admissible in a criminal trial, but is allowed in a civil trial to prove a defendant’s liability.

Is an Inconsistent Statement a Hearsay Exception?

Yes, prior statements that are considered inconsistent may be allowed at trial in some states. It depends on the rules of procedure for that state.

Is an Admission of Guilt or Liability an Exception?

Yes. Any time a defendant admits guilt, it can be included at trial even if it is hearsay. This is because it may be assumed that a person would not admit to being guilty.

What If the Statement Was Spoken by Someone Who Is Not Available to Testify?

Whether a statement made by someone unable to testify is admissible depends on the statement. Hearsay may be included if the person is not available to testify if:

  • The statement was a dying declaration
  • The statement was a declaration against the speaker’s own interest
  • The person was intimidated by the defendant into not testifying
  • The statement was prior testimony

Should I Contact an Attorney about the Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule?

Sometimes, you may need to rely on hearsay evidence to prove your innocence in a criminal case. Thus, it is in your best interest to contact a criminal attorney about what hearsay evidence is admissible. The attorney will inform you of what hearsay evidence may be admissible in your case and assist you in putting together a defense strategy to defend yourself against criminal charges.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 05-17-2018 09:58 PM PDT

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