The law guarantees a fair trial and protects your rights if you are charged with a crime on the federal level. Ensuring any testimony against you comes from reputable sources is a part of that protection. Because of this, the Federal Rules of Evidence generally prohibit the use of hearsay as evidence in federal trials.
Keep reading to learn more and then contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 to speak with a federal defense attorney who can help with your case.
What is hearsay?
According to federal law, hearsay refers to statements that meet two requirements:
- The declarant did not make the statement while testifying at the current trial or hearing
- A party offers in evidence to support the truth of the matter asserted in the statement
Hearsay guidelines for federal criminal trials define a “statement” as someone’s vocal, written, or nonverbal behavior that is intended to be an assertion. Hearsay remarks are unreliable as admissible evidence, which is the main justification for rules on hearsay in criminal trials. Furthermore, they cannot be cross-examined because they were not made under oath.
A typical case of hearsay is when a witness claims that a friend told them the defendant had confessed to the crime, but the person who allegedly heard the definition directly remains silent on the matter or claims it did not happen.
Exceptions to hearsay rules
Some remarks—like past statements from witnesses who testified and were questioned on the subject of a prior statement—are not regarded as hearsay. It was given under penalty of perjury and was in conflict with their evidence.
It is also not hearsay if it supports their evidence and is used to disprove a claim that they recently made up something, that they were behaving under dubious circumstances, or that they were impersonating someone they had previously seen.
Finally, a statement that is used to discredit an opposing party but was made in an official capacity, by someone who has the right to speak on the matter, or by a co-conspirator during and in support of that speech is not considered hearsay.
The hearsay rule is important
The hearsay rule is founded on the idea that witnesses should only refer to information they have firsthand experience with. In this manner, the witness’s credibility can be evaluated, allowing the jury to decide whether or not to accept what they are stating.
It is more challenging to determine a statement’s veracity when it is made by someone other than the witness giving testimony. Despite this, there are several exceptions to the norm where hearsay may be trusted and admitted in court for reasons other than to establish your guilt or innocence.
If you are facing criminal charges in which hearsay is being used, contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 for a free legal consultation with an experienced federal defense attorney who can help you.