The rule against hearsay is deceptively simple and full of exceptions. Hearsay is an out of court statement, made in court, to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In other words, hearsay is evidence of a statement that was made other than by a witness while testifying at the hearing in question and that is offered to prove the truth of the matter stated. For example, Witness A in a murder trial claimed on the stand: "Witness B (the "declarant") told me that the defendant killed the victim." The definition of hearsay is not too difficult to understand. But the matter can become very confusing when one considers all of the many exceptions to the general rule against hearsay.
Even if a statement meets the requirements for hearsay, the statement may yet be admissible under one of the exceptions to the hearsay rule. The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) contains nearly thirty of these exceptions. Most of them are generally available, although a few of them are limited to times when the declarant is unavailable.
There are twenty-four exceptions in the federal rules that do not require proof that the person who made the statement is unavailable. These are:
The last exception, the so-called "catchall" rule, bears some explanation. This rule does not require that the declarant be unavailable to testify. It does say that evidence of a hearsay statement not included in one of the other exceptions may nevertheless be admitted if it meets these following conditions:
Is It Just Hearsay, or Actual Evidence? Get Help From a Defense Attorney
If you're facing a criminal trial, there may be several pieces of evidence that the government is relying on for their case. However, that doesn't mean that the evidence is admissible in court. A skilled criminal defense attorney can challenge questionable evidence, such as hearsay statements, and help you prepare your strongest defense.