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What is hearsay and what are possible exceptions?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2020 | criminal defense |

During a criminal defense case, different types of evidence can make or break a case. Hearsay is a type of evidence that may come up during legal proceedings. If you have a witness who has a testimony to share but he or she is not present in the courtroom, then generally others cannot quote him or her. To quote someone else is hearsay. When the declarant is not present, then there is no way to establish whether the quote is credible. Lawyers cannot cross-examine second-hand testimonies either.

Hearsay is inadmissible.

What is hearsay?

According to FindLaw, Hearsay is a statement that a person makes outside of court. While often, people hear about hearsay when it comes to spoken comments, hearsay can also be body language or documents. Courts do not allow hearsay because the court does not want to encourage gossip in the courtroom. To bar hearsay also bars secondhand statements as evidence. When a person offers a secondhand statement as proof, it is unreliable.

What are hearsay exceptions?

With all rules, there are exceptions. The Florida Legislature lists several hearsay exceptions including:

  • Excited utterances
  • Spontaneous statements
  • Public records
  • Former statements
  • Evidence of reputation
  • A declarant’s emotional, mental or physical condition

For exceptions, such as the excited utterance and spontaneous statement, the rationale is that a person most likely will not think to lie or give false statements under these conditions. Now, this is not just an impulsive statement. It has to occur in an event where the atmosphere is so overwhelming that it discredits the idea that a person would lie.