There is a good chance that, if you have watched any legal drama on television or at the movie theatre, you have heard the term hearsay tossed around. While you might think that you are familiar with what it means, there are many misconceptions about the term that may give you the wrong idea. What should you understand about hearsay evidence, and how could it impact your Maryland criminal case?
What Is Hearsay?
In simple terms, hearsay refers to statements that are made outside of a courtroom that are presented to the court as evidence. This concept can be a little bit confusing, so think of hearsay evidence like this—James was talking to Mary, and he said that he saw Robert stealing something from the break room at work. If this case makes it to court and Mary is called to the witness stand to talk about what she heard from James, the things that she heard would be considered hearsay. At no point did Mary actually see Robert steal something. Instead, she only knows what James told her.
What Does Maryland Have to Say About Hearsay Evidence?
The state of Maryland has a general rule against the use of hearsay evidence in the courtroom. This is for a good reason, as many different studies have shown that hearsay can be untrustworthy. Because the person who initially made the statement is not there in court, there is no way to truly verify the accuracy of anything that was discussed. While this is a general rule, there are a few notable exceptions that you should understand.
What Are the Exceptions to the Hearsay Evidence Rule?
- One of the most common exceptions to hearsay evidence is known as present tense impressions. When someone is making a statement that explains something as they are seeing it or in the immediate aftermath, this is considered to be a present sense impression and completely admissible to the court.
- Another exception to the hearsay evidence rule is statements that are made about someone’s current physical, emotional, or mental condition.
- If there are any business records, there is a good chance that they are also exempt and completely admissible in court. Business records can include things like receipts, logs, invoices, and other paperwork that is filled out over the course of doing business.
- Any public records or official records are considered exceptions to hearsay evidence rules, as they are trustworthy and legally binding documents.
Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Criminal Case
When you are preparing to go to court for your criminal case, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.