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Criminal: 911 Call Clarification.

Port Angeles, WA |

I must have asked it wrongly, every lawyer stated 911 calls are inadmissible.

If the defendant of a case such as disorderly/assault etc. not D V... requests and receives the C D of the original 911 call made by the alleged victim, and there is information different than the written statement by the alleged victim(s) why would that 911 call be inadmissible?

And why aren't they used by both or either sides, it's evidence is it not, or is it because it is not signed under perjury or under oath?

It seems to me if someone states something and it turn out to be false, that is important!!!

Attorney Answers 3

  1. I don't think that every attorney said it was inadmissible....

    It can be admissible or inadmissible depending on a variety of factors. If the person who's voice is on the recording doesn't show up, then it may be hearsay evidence and may not be admissible. Some hearsay statements are admissible for limited purposes (i.e., to impeach the witness). Moreover, in a criminal case you have a right to confront the witnesses against you, so regardless of the hearsay issue you may be able to exclude the 911 recording if the witness doesn't show up and you are denied the ability to cross-examine them - but again, there are exceptions to that rule, too.

    Yes, inconsistent statements by witnesses can be important at trial, but minor inconsistencies may not be a big deal - if the 911 recording confirms all of the major accusations and only differs in minor ways it may not be advisable to admit the recording at trial.

    You have an attorney I assume. Ask your attorney why they are doing what they are doing. They may have very good reasons for not wanting to use the recording. Even if there is one helpful thing in it, there could be 10 damaging things in it! Only your attorney knows the reasons behind their decisions. There is no way for us on AVVO to know if the recording will or will not be admissible in your given case, or whether or not admitting it would even be a good idea.

  2. Hearsay is an out of court statement that goes to the truth of the matter asserted--which means, for example a 911 recording is of an out of court statement and if the recorded message is that "I was assaulted by my spouse" and you are trying to prove you were assaulted by your spouse it goes to the truth of the matter asserted. Intorducing inconsistent statements through a 911 recording without trying to prove the statement on the 911 tape is true but that a different (inconsistent) statement is not true is argaubly not hearsay and is admissible since credibility is a relevant issue in almost every case.

    911 recordings, in my experience, are normally present sense impressons and also can be excited utterances and if a proper foundation can be established can be admitted irrespective of a hearsay objection as long as the evidence is relevant..

  3. I did not say that 911 calls are always inadmissible; it depends on the circumstances. It most often comes up in DV cases, which is why I was referencing DV cases.

    It is possible for a defendant to use a 911 tape to impeach a witness who testifies to something contrary to the 911 tape that is material to the trial. You should discuss with your attorney whether the 911 tape can be used in your case and whether it would be helpful to your defense.

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