§ 1. Hearsay Generally
As a general rule, hearsay evidence is inadmissible at trial. The rationale for excluding hearsay evidence is that such evidence is generally untrustworthy because the party against whom such evidence is offered has had no opportunity to test its veracity by cross-examining the statement at the time the statement was made. Conversely, exceptions to the hearsay rule are generally based on the theory that under certain circumstances, hearsay possesses sufficient circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness to justify its admission into evidence.
In some proceedings, the proponent of hearsay need only show that the hearsay is trustworthy.
§ 2. “Hearsay” Defined
In everyday speech, "hearsay" generally means any reference to a statement by someone else. Under rules of evidence, however, some such references are considered hearsay, others are considered non-hearsay, and still others are considered hearsay but admissible under an exception. To confuse matters, often statements in this last category are described as not being hearsay.
Hearsay is generally defined by the rules of evidence as any out-of-court "statement" offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. A "statement" can be either a communication (oral or written) or conduct intended as an assertion. See also DRAWINGS--As Hearsay. Only statements which could be considered true or false are hearsay. Statements of opinion are hearsay if offered for their truth. Note that a communication which is not a statement standing alone (e.g., writing the number '5' on a blank piece of paper) may be deemed a statement based on the context which explains the intended assertion. An out-of-court statement is hearsay even if the declarant is testifying in court.
Statements are not hearsay which are offered for their effect on a listener, such as to prove notice. Questions are not hearsay. Orders and instructions are not hearsay.