I often have clients tell me that a statement in a criminal complaint, a police narrative, or something said in a videotaped interrogation is bogus evidence because it is “just hearsay.” That may well be the case, but such a statement is an oversimplification.
Before diving deeper it is important to understand what hearsay is, or at least as it is understood by the legal community. “Hearsay” is generally understood by lawyers to be any out-of-court-statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted. More simply, hearsay is a statement that is being offered in court to prove that the contents of the statement are true. That last word is key.
Whether or not a statement is hearsay depends on the purpose for which it is being introduced in court. For example, if at a trial to determine whether Zane committed theft, Andy testifies that Brandy told him that she was the one who committed theft, whether or not this statement is admissible depends (in part) on the purpose this testimony is being introduced.