How to Dispute Hearsay Evidence in New York Criminal Cases

Criminal prosecutions in New York are confined by constitutional and statutory protections for people accused of crimes in this state. The state rules of evidence and criminal procedure prevent prosecutors from eliciting certain types of testimony and other evidence that is determined to be inadmissible hearsay. Hearsay involves an out-of-court statement, offered for the truth of the matter asserted.  Hearsay is by definition a violation of the confrontation clause of the US Constitution in that it may violate the principle that the accused has the right to confront the witness against the accused.   Although many exceptions to the prohibition on hearsay evidence exist, hearsay evidence manages to find its way into trial in thousands of criminal prosecutions each year.

A New York court recently affirmed the conviction of a man for attempted sexual assault, rejecting the defendant’s arguments that inadmissible hearsay testimony offered at trial should invalidate his conviction. The defendant from the recently decided case was charged with attempted sexual assault after he was reported to have aggressively approached and grabbed a 14-year-old victim while they were in an elevator together. During the trial, the defendant’s attorney objected to the admission of certain portions of a 911 call involving the victim’s neighbor on the basis that the statements were hearsay. The objection was overruled, and the defendant was convicted of the charges.

The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the admission of the hearsay evidence was an error, which tainted his conviction. The appellate court agreed with the defendant that the statements should not have been allowed at trial; however, the court found the error was harmless in light of the overwhelming other evidence incriminating the defendant in the charges. The court noted that there were other areas at trial where inadmissible evidence may have been admitted, but the defendant failed to properly address those on appeal, so the court would not disturb the defendant’s conviction.

In order for a defendant to exclude inadmissible evidence from a criminal trial against them, their attorney must timely make an objection on the record to dispute the admission. If an objection is not properly made, an appellate court may refuse to hear the issue, even if a manifest injustice appears to have occurred. Many defense attorneys file to object to inadmissible statements properly and are unable to preserve winnable issues on appeal as a result. Anyone accused of a crime based on questionable evidence, including inadmissible hearsay, should retain a skilled New York criminal trial attorney to ensure their case is handled appropriately.

Have You Been Charged with a Crime in New York?

If you or someone close to you has been arrested or charged with a criminal offense in New York, the system has safeguards to protect you. Unfortunately, without experienced legal counsel, these safeguards often go unused. The qualified NY criminal defense attorneys with Tilem and Associates understand the importance of properly making objections to evidentiary issues before a trial even begins, and we will fight our hardest to have any charges against you dismissed. Our law firm represents clients charged with all New York felonies and misdemeanors. Call us at 877-377-8666 or contact us through our website today.

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