Hearsay in a Montana DUI Trial

Evidence is a funny thing. On the one hand, we want the jury to be able to consider as much information as possible in order to reach the correct conclusion. But after a lot of trial and error, we have discovered that some types of information are more trouble than they are worth. For example, allowing one person to testify about what a second person said could be a problem. Doing it when the second person isn’t going to testify is a serious problem. For that reason, the Montana rules of evidence prohibit Hearsay testimony unless it fits under certain exceptions.

Montana Rule of Evidence 801(c) defines hearsay as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” In Montana this could beĀ an oral or written assertion or the nonverbal conduct of a person. Hearsay is not admissible, unless otherwise allowed in the law. Because the definition of hearsay is relatively simple, legal arguments involving hearsay have more to do with the exceptions.

Montana Rule of Evidence 803 contains 24 exceptions and rule 804 contains 5 exceptions. And really, these are better thought of as categories of exceptions instead of individual ones – which means there are a lot of times when something that otherwise qualifies as hearsay evidence is admitted in a Montana DUI trial.

As I’ve discussed before, a good Montana DUI attorney keeps as much evidence out as he introduces. A strong knowledge of the Montana Rules of Evidence is essential to accomplish this – and familiarity with hearsay is vital.

If you have questions about a Montana DUI, or what evidence from the investigation could actually be used against you in Court, please call me today to schedule a free meeting. You can reach me at 752-6373 to schedule your free phone or in person consultation.

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