Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered into evidence at trial to prove the truth of the matter asserted.
For example, let’s say a prosecutor wants to prove that Debbie robbed a bank. If the prosecutor has a witness testify that, “David told me that Debbie went to the bank that day”, this statement would be hearsay. It was a statement made out of court and the prosecutor wants the jury to believe that the statement is true – – that Debbie actually went to the bank that day.
For a brief summary of hearsay you can watch the video below and after that we introduce an example of when a statement is not being offered into evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted:
So when is a statement not being offered for the truth of the matter asserted?
Sometimes a statement is not introduced for the truth of the matter asserted – – a party just wants the court to know that the statement was made, not that the statement was true.
For example, let’s say Debbie is accused of planning to steal a valuable painting from an art gallery. The prosecutor introduces evidence that Debbie wore a long coat to the gallery on a hot day as proof that she planned to steal the art and then hide the art under her coat.
In her defense, Debbie plans to introduce a statement made by Wally to her in which Wally said, “It’s going to be cold today.” Debbie does not plan to prove that it was cold. She just wants to introduce Wally’s statement to explain why she wore a long coat.
Debbie has a strong argument that Wally’s statement is not hearsay because Debbie is not trying to prove the truth of the matter asserted – – she is not trying to prove it was cold. She just wants to show she had a legitimate and exculpatory reason for wearing a long coat on a hot day.