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What is Hearsay and Why Does it Matter?

Dec. 8, 2021

According to the Rules of Evidence, Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered in order to prove the truth of the matter asserted. So, hearsay is a form of evidence and evidence itself. In simple terms, an out-of-court statement is something someone says that wasn’t said inside the court chambers.

This usually happens when someone is testifying on the witness stand, and then they mention something said to them by someone else. The main reason hearsay is kept out of court is that it is unreliable. Therefore, if someone said something, it’s only right to bring them in court in order to testify during the trial about their own statements.

However, this isn’t always possible because the speaker might not be in court, or they might not be interested in repeating what they mentioned earlier. This means that the side of criminal defense or prosecution won’t be able to cross-examine the person who is making these statements since they’re not in court.

For this reason, hearsay is usually barred for evidence in courts. However, some exceptions exist as to when hearsay can be used in court. Some of the common hearsay exceptions include:

  • Admission of guilt by a party opponent

  • Dying declaration

  • Statements against interests

  • Excited, shocked, or surprised utterances

  • Present sense impression

  • Statements about mental or physical state

  • Statements made by victims of elder abuse or children

Why Does Hearsay Law Exist?

The main purpose of hearsay law is to ensure that the evidence that a courtroom or jury hears during a trial is reliable. Therefore, hearsay law is there to keep unreliable pieces of evidence out of the courtroom so that the jury doesn’t end up deviating from focusing on the important evidence. With the help of hearsay law, this second-hand evidence isn’t used.

Instead, the original speaker is forced to attend the court proceedings, testify and avail themselves for cross-examination, which is undoubtedly the law’s most valuable tool when it comes to digging the truth.

Are you looking for a criminal defense lawyer who understands hearsay and how it works? Contact us today at BSS Law, LCC, and let us represent you to ensure that you get justice in the end.