Hearsay is a word you may hear thrown around in legal dramas or utilized in everyday conversation to denote something that a person heard from someone else. But what does hearsay mean in a legal sense? The legal concept of hearsay is one that entire books have been written on so it is impossible to fully discuss all the nuances within the confines of this blog post, but this post will provide you with some of the rudimentary basics of hearsay.
In the legal field, hearsay, in its simplest definition, is an out of court statement that is being offered for the truth of the matter asserted therein. According to the Minnesota Rules of Evidence, “ ‘Hearsay’ is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.”
As an example, let’s say Adam has been charged with assaulting Bob and Chris witnessed the assault. Chris then later tells David that Adam assaulted Bob. At trial, any testimony from David about the fact that Adam assaulted Bob would generally be ruled inadmissible in court as hearsay because David has no first-hand knowledge of Adam assaulting Bob and only heard about it from Chris.
However, there are certain exclusions and numerous exceptions to the hearsay rule that will allow otherwise inadmissible hearsay statements to be presented in court. These exceptions include statements made by party opponents, excited utterances and statements made for the purpose of medical treatment, among others. If you believe the government is attempting to use hearsay against you in a legal proceeding, it would be wise to consult an attorney who can analyze the situation and fight to keep the statement from being used against you in court.
If you or a loved one are facing charges for a criminal offense, call the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of John Leunig, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 952-540-6800 for a free consultation.