What is hearsay?
In the courtroom, hearsay, in laments terms, is when an apparent witness learns information from someone and passes it on in court while testifying. Hearsay should be truth but is only considered as such depending on the content of the information provided. It is tough for a jury to use the information given to a witness but not witnessed by a witness, so hearsay is not used as evidence in the court at all.
The evidence used in a criminal case must be reliable and as concrete as possible. Criminal cases, no matter the extremity, are not to be taken lightly. So it is best, for justice to truly be served, that all information filed into evidence is consistent and dependable. Gossip is not enough to convict an individual, and as the term itself conveys, that is basically what hearsay is.
Hearsay leaves too many important questions unanswered, such as:
- Was the individual that gave the information being honest?
- Does the person have some sort of animosity towards the defendant?
- Was the person joking when they gave the information to the witness?
- Were the details of the incident properly and correctly conveyed?
There are a few exceptions to the rule the most important are:
- Reliable sources through business or official records. Such as a phone log, or text thread of incidents in question.
- Final words, as in the persons dying statement. If an apparent witness uses their last words to maybe say the name of a criminal offender, they cannot be brought into court. So their last words may be considered admissible.
When there are criminal accusations being made against you or your loved one, the same way you would wish for the best defense, if you MUST be convicted, you would at least prefer legitimate evidence to be used, and not lies or hearsay. Although it is unlikely you’d like to be convicted at all. Unfortunately, there are some incidents where the odds are just stacked against you. If you or someone you know has been charged or may be charged with a criminal offense, speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney that will be able to review the details of your case and do their best to defend you. A knowledgeable attorney will know what evidence is admissible or inadmissible in court, and you do not want to face a jury underprepared and possibly risk your freedom from hearsay. Speak to a Decatur attorney as soon as possible.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and hearsay.
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