Under Rule 801, hearsay is defined as a statement that the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing and a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. This rule also provides definitions for 'statement,' 'declarant,' and 'matter asserted.' Importantly, Rule 801 outlines several exclusions from hearsay, including certain prior statements by witnesses and statements of identification.
Rule 802 is a short but pivotal rule that states hearsay is not admissible unless any of the following provides otherwise: a federal statute, these rules, or other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court. This rule sets the stage for the numerous exceptions that follow in the subsequent rules.
Rule 803 enumerates 23 exceptions to the rule against hearsay, which apply regardless of whether the declarant is available as a witness. These exceptions include, but are not limited to, present sense impressions, excited utterances, then-existing mental, emotional, or physical condition, statements made for medical diagnosis or treatment, recorded recollection, records of regularly conducted activity (business records), and public records.
Rule 804 sets forth exceptions to hearsay that are applicable when the declarant is considered unavailable, which includes criteria such as privilege, refusal to testify despite a court order, lack of memory, death, or infirmity. The exceptions under this rule include former testimony, statements under belief of imminent death, statements against interest, and statements of personal or family history.
Rule 805 states that hearsay within hearsay is not excluded by the rule against hearsay if each part of the combined statements conforms with an exception to the hearsay rule provided in the rules of evidence.
Rule 807 allows for the admission of a hearsay statement not covered by Rule 803 or 804 if the statement has sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness, is offered as evidence of a material fact, is more probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence that the proponent can obtain through reasonable efforts, and admitting it will best serve the purposes of these rules and the interests of justice. The proponent must give an advance notice of the intent to use the statement, including its particulars and the reasons for its admissibility.