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Evidence Archives

Evidence: What is Hearsay?

The rules concerning the admissibility or inadmissibility of hearsay are among the most important among the various rules of evidence, and they are also among the most misunderstood. Hearsay is defined under the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence as "a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted." More simply stated, hearsay occurs when a witness testifies in court about what someone else said, as evidence of a particular fact. For example, if Witness X testifies that the bartender at Dionysus's Den told him that he saw Mr. Defendant at Dionysus' Den five minutes before Mr. Defendant allegedly shot Mr. Victim outside the bar, that would be hearsay. If the bartender himself testifies that he saw Mr. Defendant in the bar, that would not be hearsay; it would be direct eye witness testimony.