Michigan Court Discusses Admissibility of Hearsay Evidence in Criminal Trials

In criminal matters, there is certain evidence the state cannot use to demonstrate a defendant’s guilt. For example, hearsay is generally precluded from use at trial. There are exceptions, though, that allow hearsay evidence to come in. Recently, a Michigan court explained the exceptions to the rule against hearsay in a case in which the defendant appealed his murder conviction. If you are charged with murder or any other serious offense, you should confer with a Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to assess what evidence the state may use against you.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and the victim, who were married, lived together with the victim’s adult daughter and her son. The defendant and the victim began arguing one morning, and their disagreement became physical. The victim then kicked the defendant out of the house. Later that evening, the victim’s daughter was in her room when she again heard the victim and defendant arguing. She then heard gunshots and called 911. After she left her room, she found the victim, who had been shot.

Allegedly, the victim died from her wounds. The defendant was charged with and convicted of murder. He appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court erred in admitting hearsay evidence at trial.

Admissibility of Hearsay Evidence

Under Michigan law, hearsay evidence is generally not admissible unless it falls under one of the enumerated exceptions. The court explained that hearsay is a statement made by someone other than the person testifying at a hearing or trial, the is offered into evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Statements are defined by the Michigan rules of evidence as not only oral or written assertions but also nonverbal behavior if it is intended to be an assertion.

In the subject case, the court rejected the defendant’s reasoning and found that all the statements he alleged were hearsay were properly admitted. For example, the victim’s daughter’s testimony that she heard the defendant and victim arguing was offered to show the effect they had on the parties, not the truth of the matter asserted. As such, they were not hearsay because their value did depend on whether or not they were true. The court found that other statements were properly admitted under the present sense exception and excited utterance exception. Thus, the court found that the trial court properly admitted the statements in question and affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Meet with an Assertive Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

The prosecution is limited in what evidence it can introduce at trial, and if it improperly relies on hearsay testimony, it could result in an unjust verdict. If you are accused of a criminal offense, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney to help you formulate a defense. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is an assertive Michigan criminal defense lawyer who can gather any evidence that will help you seek a just result. You can reach Mr. Bernstein through the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a conference.

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