Does a letter need to be notarized to stand up in court

Asked almost 3 years ago - Portland, OR

I want to be my friend's witness in courtto testified that I was at her ex boyfriend's house when he stalked her and tellings lies about her, therefore i won't be able to make it, Will my unnotorized letter stand up in court?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Orion Jacob Nessly

    Contributor Level 15

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The other posters are right and the judge probably won't even look at your letter whether it's notarized or not. The reason for this is that your letter is hearsay.

    "Hearsay" is a statement that was made out of court that is now being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Here, your letter is an out-of-court statement. Your friend would presumably offer it to the court to help prove the stalking charges or to prove that her ex lied. This means that she would be offering it to "prove the truth of the matter asserted." Therefore, your letter is inadmissible hearsay.

    You can always impeach the credibility of a witness (show that the ex is lying or show that he has a reason to lie), but there's also a rule that says that otherwise inadmissible evidence (such as your letter) cannot be admitted into evidence via impeachment.

    My colleagues are right: if you really want to help your friend, you need to show up in person. Plus, a live person, if you're a credible witness, carries much more weight than a written, faceless letter.

    If you absolutely cannot go to the trial, there may be other options:
    (1) Your friend could seek a postponement or reset so that you can appear on a different date;
    (2) Your deposition could be taken to preserve your testimony (there are a very limited set of circumstances when this is allowed and the other side needs to get a certain amount of notice and has a right to be there);
    (3) If the problem is getting out of work, you could ask your friend to issue a subpoena, which would require you to be there for trial;
    (4) Your friend could file a motion to allow you to testify by phone (again, certain requirements must be met and there are particular rules regarding how much notice must be given to the other side here as well).
    (3)

    My responses to posts on AVVO are not legal advice, nor do they create an attorney-client relationship. In order... more
  2. Joanne Reisman

    Contributor Level 17

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . A trial involves the other side having the right to cross examine a witness. Written testimony like the affidavit you are suggesting would deprive that defendant of that right. You didn't say if this is a civil or criminal matter. In civil matters the deposition of a witness can be taken with both sides present and then used later in the court proceeding in lieu of live testimony. The other side had a chance to cross examine the witness during the deposition. If this case is civil you could give your testimony by deposition but that can be costly. The best thing is to show up for trial if your testimony is important.

    The comments by this author to questions posted on Avvo are designed to foster a general understanding of what... more
  3. Mary Katherine Brown

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    2

    Answered . In most cases, you will need to testify personally. Whether your letter is notarized or not, probably won't make a difference. If you want to help your friend, I suggest you make yourself available. Good luck!

    Ms. Brown may be reached at 718-878-6886 during regular business hours, or anytime by email at: marykatherinebrown@... more
  4. Richard Brian Hein

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Probably not. Your out-of-court statement which will be offered for the truth of it contains will be considered hearsay evidence, and therefore, most likely will be excluded from evidence.

    Disclaimer: If you want legal advice, you will have to hire an attorney, not ask on Avvo. I am not your attorney... more

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.

 

Ask now

32,005 answers this week

3,461 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

32,005 answers this week

3,461 attorneys answering