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What is “Hearsay” Evidence in Waldorf, MD Criminal Cases?

“Hearsay” is a type of “bad” evidence that must be excluded from any criminal trial that takes place in Waldorf, Maryland, or in any other part of Southern Maryland. Hearsay is “bad” because it cannot be tested in court by cross-examination by your trial-tested Maryland criminal defense team. In brief, hearsay is testimony (or other evidence) about something someone said when that someone is not in the courtroom to testify to what they said. For example, Bill is in court and testifies that he heard Joe say that he — Joe — witnessed the criminal defendant commit the crime. Bill’s hearsay testimony is being given for the truth of what was said.

This is “bad” evidence because Joe is not in court, will not be in court, and cannot testify as to what he — Joe — said AND, just as importantly, Joe cannot be cross-examined about what he said, what he witnessed and whether what he witnessed was actually the criminal defendant committing the crime. At trial, a Maryland criminal court judge must exclude Bill’s testimony about what Joe said. This is required by the Maryland Rules of Criminal Evidence. Otherwise, the Maryland criminal court judge has committed a judicial error and, if convicted, the criminal defense team would have grounds for a post-conviction appeal.

Hearsay also appears in documents. So, instead of Bill testifying to what he heard Joe say, the government prosecutor attempts to introduce a text message written by Bill that restates what Joe said. The same hearsay is in the text message, and based on the Rules of Evidence, a Maryland criminal court just must exclude the text message from being used as evidence in a criminal trial.

Note that there can also be multiple layers of hearsay — double, triple, etc. Double hearsay would be testimony by Bill about what Joe said that Patricia said, where neither Joe nor Patricia will be in court to testify. In a Maryland criminal trial, multiple hearsay is even worse than single hearsay.

If you have been charged with a crime and are searching for a “Maryland criminal defense lawyer near me,” you want to make sure the criminal defense attorney you hire understands the Maryland rules that ban hearsay. As discussed a bit below, there are many exceptions to the hearsay ban. If you are charged here in Charles County, call the proven Maryland criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Robert Castro at (301) 705-5137. We are available 24/7.

As noted, there are exceptions to the hearsay rule, many of which involve written hearsay. The hearsay exceptions are written in the Maryland Rules of Criminal Evidence and are exceptions because there is something about the evidence that strongly indicates truthfulness. For example, old writing — like reports from 50 years ago — is allowed even though they contain hearsay. Given the age of the writing, there is a presumed truthfulness contained therein. Business records are another hearsay exception. Even though they might contain hearsay, it is expected that the business records are truthful because true and accurate records are necessary for a business to properly and efficiently operate.

There are some exceptions that apply to verbal hearsay or that are not considered hearsay. Remember that hearsay is defined, in part, as evidence of an not-in-the-courtroom statement that is given for the truth of the matter stated. Sometimes, there is a need for evidence that words were spoken. That is, evidence NOT that the words were true, but that the words were said. For example, Bill testifies that Joe screamed “FIRE” in a crowded movie theater. That is “good” evidence if Bill is not testifying that there was a fire, but only that Joe said the word. As can be seen, hearsay is legally very complicated. You need Maryland criminal defense attorneys with deep knowledge of the Maryland Rules of Criminal Evidence.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD, criminal defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.