Meaning of Hearsay Rule with an example
Hearsay is a type of testimony that is generally prohibited in court. There are some exceptions though. Hearsay usually involves someone testifying about what someone else said or wrote. The definition of “hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered in court for the truth is the matter asserted”. An out-of-court statement means a statement made by someone who’s not in court, meaning that it’s an unsworn statement. Nobody sworn that the statement was true when testifying in court. Witnesses must swear to tell the truth.
For example: -So let’s say we have utkarsh and we have udit and they meet on the street. Utkarsh tells udit that he saw Urvashi go to a bank early in the morning. So utkarsh saying that he saw Urvashi go to the bank is our out-of-court statement. Now let’s say sometime later Urvashi goes on trial. She’s on trial for stealing money from the bank. The prosecutor wants to prove that Urvashi went to the bank. Can he ask udit to testify that Utkarsh said that he saw Urvashi go to the bank early in the morning? Maybe not because that statement is hearsay.
Udit’s testimony is hearsay because he is testifying about utkarsh’s out-of-court statement and it’s being offered for its truth and Urvashi went to the bank. The prosecutor wants the jury to believe that utkarsh really saw Urvashi go to the bank. If the jury believes that what udit said is true, the jury might be more likely to convict Urvashi. Of course, Utkarsh could testify as to what he saw and that would not be hearsay.
Example of non-hearsay: – let’s say we have an office with Urvashi, Utkarsh, Udit. Urvashi saw a fight where Utkarsh punched Udit. Now utkarsh is on trial, utkarsh lawyer asks Urvashi about what she saw before utkarsh punched udit, well Urvashi saw udit walk up to utkarsh with his fists raised and udit told utkarsh that he was the worst person that ever lived and Urvashi testifies as to what she saw udit do and what udit said but the out-of-court statement “you’re the worst person that ever lived is that hearsay well does utkarsh’s lawyer want the jury to believe that utkarsh is the worst person that ever lived or does the lawyer want the jury to believe that utkarsh heard udit call him the worst person that ever lived it’s pretty clear that utkarsh lawyer wants the jury to hear what udit said and obviously utkarsh lawyer does not want the jury to believe that utkarsh really is the worst person that ever lived, the testimony is not hearsay because it’s not being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted the lawyer is not trying to prove that what udit said was true she’s only trying to prove that udit said.Is Hearsay Evidence Enough To Convict Someone?
Also Read – Is Hearsay Evidence Enough To Convict Someone?
How to find something is hearsay or not?
- A statement – It is not an action or impression, but the actual words are spoken or written.
- Made outside of court – It is not hearsay for someone to comment on something said by another witness in court. But, if the statement occurs outside of court, where the judge and jury could not hear it, then it may be hearsay.
Why does the hearsay rule exist?
- Statements made out of court are not made under oath and therefore cannot be given the same weight as statements made under oath.
- An out-of-court statement that is being repeated cannot be tested in cross-examination. Its accuracy therefore cannot be evaluated.
- There is a possibility of fabrication, exaggeration, distortion, or inaccuracy.
- Hearsay evidence is not what is called the best evidence. The ‘best evidence’ rule is essential that evidence should be given by the person best capable of giving it. If person C has evidence to give that is relevant to a proceeding, under the best evidence rule, person C should be called as a witness to give that evidence.
Conclusion (what is the hearsay rule)
The hearsay rule is that rule which prohibits hearsay in courtrooms. The rule against hearsay is probably the most well-known rule of evidence. However, it is often misunderstood. The exclusion of hearsay evidence is set out in “Section 59 of the Commonwealth evidence act.” That provision states that ‘evidence of a previous representation made by a person is not admissible to prove the existence of a fact it can reasonably be supposed that the person intended to assert by the representation.’ A simpler way to explain the hearsay rule is that witnesses are permitted to give evidence only of things that they themselves saw, heard, or otherwise perceived.
This Article Written by Utkarsh Aswal, Student of Delhi Metropolitan Education (IPU Affiliated College).
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