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Updated by HCWB on Oct 02, 2017
Headline for Statements Made by The Defendant Can Be Used Against Them
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Statements Made by The Defendant Can Be Used Against Them

In North Carolina, as in every other state, having a general understanding of the hearsay rule and its exceptions is critical to understanding the Rules of Evidence and whether certain statements will be introduced as evidence into your case. If you are currently the subject of civil litigation, it’s important that you consult with an experienced North Carolina attorney who is familiar with the hearsay rule and its exceptions. Exceptions to the hearsay rule include, but are not limited, to the below list.

1

Present Sense Impression

A present sense impression is a statement made by the declarant while the declarant is actively experiencing a particular event.

For example, if a witness sees that a pedestrian is running in front of your car, and makes a loud statement of their immediate impression of the situation to others around them — “That guy is running into the street!” — then that would likely constitute a present sense impression and therefore be allowable into evidence. On the other hand, a similar statement made five minutes later — “That guy ran into the street!” — would not qualify as part of this exception.

2

Excited Utterance

Excited utterances are statements that are made while under the pressure of stress or while experiencing a fleeting moment of excitement. Such statements are deemed somewhat more “reliable” than normal hearsay statements in the sense that they are not subject to conscious manipulation at the time that the statement is made.

For example, if a witness saw the plaintiff speeding towards them in their rearview mirror, they might shout, “He’s hurtling towards us!” The stress induced by the situation at-hand would likely qualify the statement as an excited utterance.

3

Statement of Personal Condition

A statement of one’s personal mental, emotional, sensation, or physical condition qualifies as an exception to the hearsay rule. For example, if a witness was emotionally distressed watching a motor vehicle accident unfold, the statement — as it relates to their emotional distress — would likely be allowable into evidence

4

Character Reputation

Statements regarding a person’s character (i.e., in his community, business network, etc.) may be introduced to prove his reputation as it relates to his character. For example, if a person is widely viewed as untrustworthy among others in their particular business network, then such evidence may be brought in to attack that person’s character.

5

Admissions by a Party Opponent

If a party opponent — say, the plaintiff in a case where you are the defendant — makes an admission or confession statement, you can introduce that statement into evidence.

For example, suppose that you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. As you’re speaking to the plaintiff after the accident, the plaintiff apologizes to you and admits that they were speeding and were distracted by their cell phone at the time of the accident. This evidence would not only be admissible, but would also be very helpful in undermining the plaintiff’s injury claims against you.