If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska for the first time, you are likely feeling overwhelmed and concerned about the outcome of your case. The criminal justice system can be confusing and difficult to navigate under the best of circumstances. Being the defendant in a criminal prosecution is certainly not the best of circumstances. One thing that helps is to gain a better understanding of what the State must prove in order to convict you and how they will go about doing that. Given the unique nature of a criminal prosecution, the best way to learn exactly what will be necessary to obtain a conviction in your case is to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. One general evidentiary concept you should understand, however, is hearsay. To help, a Cass County criminal defense lawyer explains what hearsay is and the role it could play in your trial.
Types of Evidence
There are two types of evidence: direct testimony by witnesses and circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence includes fingerprints, ballistic tests, and other kind of physical evidence. Circumstantial evidence requires the finder of fact to draw some sort of inference. Popular television shows make it seem as though circumstantial evidence is easy to collect and verify. In reality, that kind of evidence is not always as valuable to a case as people have come to believe. Fingerprints might be hard to collect because of the surface of materials, or there might have been other people who touched the same area. Many cases simply do not have the kind of evidence seen on television. Moreover, in many cases, the allegations made by the State simply do not require physical evidence as proof.
The other type of evidence is direct testimony by a witness. Many cases consist primarily of testimony by witnesses. When a witness testifies, the credibility of the witness is extremely important to the weight a judge or jury will give to that testimony. There are a number of rules, however, that apply to testimony by a witness. Some testimony, for example, is not allowed. Hearsay is one example. Hearsay is when someone tries to use statements made out of court, by someone else, to prove the truth of something. Unless these statements fall under one of the exceptions to the hearsay rules, they cannot be admitted as evidence against you.
Outside of the courtroom we use hearsay all the time to make a point or bolster an argument. Imagine, for example, that you are trying to convince someone of the threat global warming poses to the plant. During the discussion you say “I heard a scientist say that global warming will cause the planet to warm up 10 degrees in the next century.” You just used hearsay to make your point because you are “testifying” using a statement made by another person who is not present at the time you are making your argument. The reason hearsay is not allowed is that there is no way to confront and cross-examine a witnesses who is not present in court. Imagine, for example, if a prosecution witness was allowed to testify that a third person – who is not in court – told him that he saw you commit the crime for which you are charged. Your attorney cannot cross-examine this mystery third party nor can the judge or jury evaluate the individual’s credibility. Therefore, hearsay testimony is not allowed in a criminal prosecution unless it meets one of the limited exceptions to the general hearsay rule.
How Can a Cass County Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
If you are concerned about the role hearsay might play in your criminal prosecution, consult with an experienced Cass County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska it is certainly in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense lawyer right away to discuss what defenses might be available to you. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.