Sarah Edwards | November 29, 2022
Summary: In a legal context, hearsay occurs when a witness quotes information, usually from a third party, to prove a point without knowing if the information is 100% accurate or having witnessed the information firsthand.
Have you ever wondered what hearsay is? Hearsay is commonly used in a legal context, but you may also hear someone use it to describe gossip. Understanding hearsay in a legal context can help you if you ever find yourself involved in judicial proceedings.
Hearsay involves repeating something you heard from a third party about someone else while under oath in a court case.
Let’s look at an example.
Example: Consider a witness named Anna. A prosecutor asks Anna to testify concerning Jim’s whereabouts. Anna tells the court that Tina told her that Jim was in Miami, Florida, working as a waiter. Unfortunately, Tina isn’t available to confirm Anna’s statement. The court dismisses Anna’s testimony since Tina isn’t part of the legal proceedings, and Anna didn’t directly hear the information from Jim. The court may allow Anna’s statements if Tina is available for cross-examination at the trial. If Tina is another witness, the court would likely ask her to confirm Anna’s account before allowing it as evidence.
One example of hearsay is the police report following a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident. Police officers talk to everyone involved in a car accident before completing their report. Since the statements aren’t coming from the individuals, the court will find the report hearsay in many jurisdictions.
Another example of hearsay is an email asserting certain statements made by someone else. For instance, if Jane sends an email to Bob and talks about Tammy’s comments made to her, the court would consider the email hearsay. The only way the court could retain the email as evidence is if Tammy was available for cross-examination.
Most courts will not admit any evidence considered hearsay unless it qualifies for a hearsay exception. Several exceptions exist that the court will consider before accepting the evidence.
Each state has its own rules concerning hearsay evidence. Thus, if you’re involved in a legal case concerning hearsay, your lawyer will carefully consider the state’s rules if they choose to put forth evidence considered hearsay.
One example of a hearsay exception is an admission against interest. Under admission against interest rules, the court considers statements made by a party before anyone knew of a potential lawsuit to likely be true.
For instance, if someone says to a friend, “I like to sneak into houses, hide in the closet, and surprise people when they come home,” it’s likely to be admissible as evidence. The court will likely lean toward accepting the statement as accurate since the individual made it before the idea of a lawsuit became known.
An excited utterance is another example of hearsay that may be allowed in court. For instance, when someone calls 911, they’re likely speaking the truth — something happened that caused them to call for emergency services.
A judge will likely allow their recorded 911 call into evidence if the case goes to trial.
Yes, any business or public records can qualify for a hearsay exception. Business records can include hospital records, inventory statements, utility bills, financial statements, or other documents. Public records include birth certificates, marriage certificates, police records, and further details.
Any records requested in a hearing or trial must receive approval from the judge before being admitted as evidence. In most jurisdictions, you’ll need to get certified copies of the records from the business. You can’t simply just print out a copy from your computer and provide it as documentation.
If you make a statement to a doctor or another healthcare professional concerning symptoms you’re experiencing from an illness or accident, your words may be admissible in a trial.
For instance, if you’re in an ambulance on your way to the hospital for treatment from a gunshot wound, and you tell emergency services that your ex-boyfriend shot you while outside your home, the statement will likely qualify for a hearsay exception.
If you’re involved in court proceedings that will result in a trial, it’s best to allow your lawyer to sort out what evidence is hearsay and what evidence may qualify for an exception to the rule. They have the qualifications and experience to determine whether your evidence is admissible in court.
Remember that each state’s rules concerning hearsay vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Your lawyer will carefully assess your local court’s rules before deciding what evidence they can use.
SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.
You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.
SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.
>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate
>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Going to Court for Credit Card Debt — Key Tips
How to Negotiate Credit Card Debts
How to Settle a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit — Ultimate Guide
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Why do debt collectors block their phone numbers?
How long do debt collectors take to respond to debt validation letters?
What are the biggest debt collector companies in the US?
Is Zombie Debt Still a Problem in 2019?
If a car is repossessed, do I still owe the debt?
Is Portfolio Recovery Associates Legit?
Is There a Judgment Against Me Without my Knowledge?
Should I File Bankruptcy Before or After a Judgment?
What is a default judgment?— What do I do?
Summoned to Court for Medical Bills — What Do I Do?
What Happens If Someone Sues You and You Have No Money?
What Happens If You Never Answer Debt Collectors?
What Happens When a Debt Is Sold to a Collection Agency
What is a Stipulated Judgment?
What is the Deadline for a Defendants Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?
Can a Judgement Creditor Take my Car?
Can I Settle a Debt After Being Served?
Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?
Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?
Do I Need a Payday Loans Lawyer?
Do student loans go away after 7 years? — Student Loan Debt Guide
Am I Responsible for My Spouses Medical Debt?
Should I Marry Someone With Debt?
Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?
How Does Debt Assignment Work?
What Happens If a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment?
How Does Debt Assignment Work?
Can You Serve Someone with a Collections Lawsuit at Their Work?
How Many Times Can a Judgment be Renewed in Oklahoma?
Does Debt Consolidation Have Risks?
What Happens If You Avoid Getting Served Court Papers?
Does Student Debt Die With You?
Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work in Texas?
How Much Do You Have to Be in Debt to File for Chapter 7?
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Washington?
How Long Does a Judgment Last?
Can Private Disability Payments Be Garnished?
Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?
Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?
The Truth: Should You Never Pay a Debt Collection Agency?
Should You Communicate with a Debt Collector in Writing or by Telephone?
What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?
Can a Process Server Leave a Summons Taped to My Door?
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.
How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide
How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration Without an Attorney
How to Stop Wage Garnishment — Everything You Need to Know
How to File an FDCPA Complaint Against Your Debt Collector (Ultimate Guide)
Defending Yourself in Court Against a Debt Collector
Tips on you can to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency
Advice on how to answer a summons for debt collection.
Effective strategies for how to get back on track after a debt lawsuit
New Hampshire Statute of Limitations on Debt
Sample Cease and Desist Letter Against Debt Collectors
The Ultimate Guide to Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Utah
West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt
What debt collectors cannot do — FDCPA explained
Defending Yourself in Court Against Debt Collector
Arkansas Statute of Limitations on Debt
Youre Drowning in Debt — Heres How to Swim
Help! Im Being Sued by My Debt Collector
How to Make a Motion to Vacate Judgment
How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont
North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Debt
ClearPoint Debt Management Review
Indiana Statute of Limitations on Debt
Oregon Eviction Laws - What They Say
CuraDebt Debt Settlement Review
How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter
How to Appear in Court by Phone
How to Use the Doctrine of Unclean Hands
Debt Consolidation in Eugene, Oregon
Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next
How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement
Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Heres What to Do
How to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection
Tips for Leaving the Country With Unpaid Credit Card Debt
Kansas Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection
How to File in Small Claims Court in Iowa
How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court
Roseland Associates Debt Consolidation Review
Do Debt Collectors Ever Give Up?
Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?
How Often Do Credit Card Companies Sue for Non-Payment?
How Long Does a Judgement Last?
How Long Before a Creditor Can Garnish Wages?
How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court
Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.
"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather