Hearsay evidence can be described as written or oral statements, or even other communicative conduct, made by someone outside of the court proceeding – if it is used to establish the truth of the contents of the statement. It is presumed to be inadmissible because its reliability cannot be challenged through cross-examination. After all, the maker of the statement is not there to testify in court. Essentially, it is gossip.
However, there are many exceptions to the general hearsay rule against admissibility, such that the evidence may be admitted. Naturally, there are also exceptions to the exceptions!
Even if no exception applies that would allow the hearsay evidence, it may be admitted if the judge considers it to be sufficiently 'reliable and necessary'.
As a defence lawyer, I most often make legal arguments to keep out harmful hearsay evidence that the prosecutor wishes to use against my client.
Did you know...
A statement made by an accused person is treated differently by the rules of evidence than statements made by other witnesses. It can be much more difficult for a prosecutor to use a statement made by an accused against that accused in a trial. Again, these are the types of statements I try to keep out of a trial, except in those rare instances where it is helpful to my client's case to have their statement admitted into the evidence.
This article is general information and may not apply to you. Please call me for specific advice at 613.203.4874.