Hearsay refers to a statement or information that someone heard from another person, rather than directly experiencing, or observing it themselves. In other words, hearsay is second-hand information that is not based on the personal knowledge or observation of the person conveying it. Hearsay evidence is generally not admissible in court, as it is often unreliable and can be easily manipulated or distorted as it passes from one person to another. However, there are some exceptions and circumstances where hearsay evidence may be allowed.
When is Hearsay Admissible?
Hearsay evidence is generally considered to be unreliable and is therefore excluded as evidence in court. However, there are some exceptions to this rule where hearsay evidence may be admitted in certain circumstances. These include:
- Dying declarations: Statements made by a person who believes they are about to die and which relate to the cause or circumstances of their impending death may be admissible as evidence.
- Declarations against interest: Statements made by a person that are against their own interest, such as confessions to a crime, may be admissible as evidence.
- Spontaneous utterance: This exception applies when a statement is made by a person who is under the stress or excitement of a startling event and the statement relates to that event. The idea behind this exception is that statements made in a state of shock or excitement are considered to be more reliable, as they are less likely to be fabricated or influenced by memory or external factors.
- State of Mind Exception: The state of mind exception to the hearsay rule is a rule of evidence that allows statements made by a person to be admitted in court as evidence to show the person’s state of mind or mental condition, rather than for the truth of the matter asserted.
- Business records: Records made in the regular course of business, such as invoices, receipts, and sales records, may be admissible as evidence.
- Principled Exception: Statements that do not fall within any of the above exceptions may be admissible as evidence if they are reliable and necessary for the fair determination of the case.
It is important to note that the admissibility of hearsay evidence is always subject to the discretion of the judge, who will consider the reliability and probative value of the evidence considering the circumstances of the case.