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What Is Hearsay (Explained: All You Need To Know)

Wondering What Is Hearsay?

What does Hearsay mean in law?

What’s important to know about this concept?

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let me explain to you what hearsay means and why it’s important!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Is Hearsay

In law, hearsay is a term used to refer to a statement made by someone outside the courtroom that is not a witness in a particular case.

In other words, when a person testifying in court says that he or she was told by someone that another person said something, that would be considered hearsay.

The reason why this statement would be considered hearsay is that the person witnessing in court did not personally hear the third party say something.

The witness was told by someone who claimed he or she heard another person say something.

In most cases, hearsay testimony is not admissible to prove a certain fact.

The courts will not accept hearsay as evidence when the person who made the statement is not present as a witness in court.

The reason why this is the case is that hearsay evidence is not reliable enough for the courts to consider in dealing with a legal matter.

For the court to accept a statement to prove a particular fact, the statement must be made in front of the court, under oath, and must be subject to cross-examination.

Keep reading as I will further break down the meaning of hearsay and tell you how it works.

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Hearsay Elements

Hearsay is considered a statement made outside of the courtroom presented by a party to prove the truth of the statement asserted.

Let’s break down the elements of hearsay.

First, there must be a “statement”.

The statement could be a person saying something, a document, a letter, a text message, or anything else.

The statement must be made “out of court”.

This means that the statement or document presented as evidence was created outside of the courtroom.

The statement is “presented as evidence”.

This means that the party using the statement intends to present it as evidence to prove a certain fact.

Finally, the statement is presented to prove the “truth of the matter asserted”.

This means that the party using the statement is looking to prove that the statement made is truthful.

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Hearsay Rule

The courts in every jurisdiction will have rules governing hearsay evidence.

According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, hearsay is defined as “a statement that: (1) the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing; and (2) a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.”

Based on this rule, a federal court must assess a person’s statement to determine if it’s hearsay or not.

The court will consider three elements to see if a statement is considered hearsay:

  • There must be a statement made
  • The statement is made by someone out of court
  • The statement is presented in court to prove the information asserted

If the court finds these three elements, the statement will be considered hearsay and cannot be used to prove the information that was asserted.

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Hearsay Admissibility

In general, hearsay is not considered admissible evidence to prove the truth of the statement made.

The reason why hearsay is not admissible in court is that such statements are found to be unreliable.

A person recounting what another person told them about another person can potentially lead to distorted facts and factual errors.

The best factual evidence of a statement is to have the person who made the statement or who directly heard the statement testify before the court.

However, there are exceptions to this Hearsay Rule.

According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, there are many exceptions to the Hearsay Rule where the court will accept hearsay evidence as proof for the statement made.

Here are some hearsay exceptions that may apply among others: 

  • Excited Utterance
  • Present Sense Impressions
  • Statement Made for Medical Diagnosis or Treatment
  • Recorded Recollection
  • Records of a Regularly Conducted Activity
  • Public Records
  • Absence of a Public Record
  • Family Records
  • Records of Documents that Affect Interest in Property
  • Statements in Documents that Affect an Interest in Property
  • Market Reports and Similar Commercial Publications
  • Reputation Concerning Personal or Family History
  • Judgment of a Previous Conviction
  • Judgments Involving Personal, Family, or General History, or a Boundary

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Hearsay Example

Let’s look at an example of hearsay evidence.

Let’s assume that a party in court wants to prove that John was driving a car.

If Mary testifies that she was told by Marc that John was driving a car, this statement will be considered hearsay.

Mary did not see John drive a car, she is recounting that Marc told her about it.

Since Marc’s statement to Mary was out of court and is intended to prove that John was driving a car, it will be considered hearsay.

However, if you are looking to prove Marc said certain words to Mary about John driving a car, then Mary’s evidence will be admissible.

This is the case as Mary was told, firsthand, the statement made by Marc about John driving.

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Takeaways 

So there you have it folks!

What does hearsay mean?

In law, hearsay refers to an out-of-court statement that is used to prove the truth of what was asserted.

In general, hearsay evidence is not admissible in court as the statement is considered unreliable.

Since hearsay is second-hand evidence, most jurisdictions will not allow a party to present hearsay to prove the content of the words or statements that were uttered or made.

The secondhand information cannot be verified in court and the person making the statement cannot be subject to cross-examination.

Keep in mind that there can be exceptions to the Hearsay Rule.

It’s important that you speak with a trial lawyer who understands the applicable rules of evidence to be able to assess if your evidence can be viewed as hearsay or not.

Now that you know what hearsay means and how it works, good luck with your research!

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Author

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!

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