There are a lot of rules that apply to the presentation of evidence during a criminal trial. While they may seem nuanced, knowing how to utilize them can be critically important to your case. After all, if you misapply the rules or fail to properly object to the misuse of evidence, then you could end up facing a criminal conviction. Making matters worse is the fact that poorly handled evidentiary issues can leave you with little room to work with on appeal.
The basics of hearsay
Hearsay is one of the more complicated rules of evidence. In short, hearsay is a statement that was made outside of court by someone other than the individual who is testifying, and that statement is being presented to prove the truth of facts asserted in that statement. For example, if John testifies that Diana told him that she was home sick on a particular day, then Diana’s statement is inadmissible hearsay if it’s being presented to the court to prove that Diana was, in fact, staying home sick that day.
Although hearsay is inadmissible, there are a number of exceptions to that general ban. Here are some of them:
- Statements made by a party opponent
- Statements made for the purposes of medical treatment
- Excited utterances, which are statements made during a time of great stress
- Present sense impressions
- Statements pertaining to the speaker’s then-existing mental state
- Statements contained in the records of a regularly conducted business activity
These are just some of the more commonly used exceptions to the hearsay rule, and each one has its own requirements that have to be met in order to be effectively used. While you might be able to use some of these exceptions to your advantage, you need to know them so that you can try to beat back the prosecution’s use of hearsay.
Know how to aggressively defend yourself
It’s important to note that evidence is going to be used against you unless you properly object to it. That’s why you need to know the rules of evidence and how to use them to your advantage. If you’d like to learn more about how to develop your criminal defense trial strategy in light of the law and applicable rules, then now may be the time for you to reach out to an attorney of your choosing.