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Wanderland

911 Calls

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It may be admissible to prove law enforcement personnel were dispatched to a particular location but not to prove anything that was said during the call.  It may also be used to impeach a witness who made the call and later made inconsistent statements.    I have no idea why the prosecution would withhold the call.

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1 hour ago, RetiredinVA said:

but not to prove anything that was said during the call.

Actually, that's not correct.  A 911 call is not considered "testimony" under Crawford, Davis, etc., and therefore is admissible as an excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule.

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It is true that in some cases 911 calls may be admitted into evidence under the two exceptions to the hearsay rule.  The exceptions relate primarily to domestic violence situations in which a witness spontaneously and excitedly blurts out statements to the 911 operator and is not available for trial later.   Sorry for the omissions.  However, Davis and others do not automatically make all 911 calls admissible to prove the truth of the satements.

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On 8/19/2016 at 4:52 PM, Wanderland said:

Can a 911 call be admissible in court as evidence?

 

As phrased, the answer to this question is yes, but that does not mean 911 recordings are always admissible.  It depends on the relevant facts and circumstances.

 

 

On 8/19/2016 at 4:52 PM, Wanderland said:

If so, why would a prosecutor withhold such evidence?

 

Depends on the relevant facts and what exactly "withhold such evidence means."  If it means that the prosecutor in a particular case chose not to offer a recording of a 911 call as evidence, given that you provided no facts whatsoever, making up hypothetical reasons why a prosecutor might do that would be utterly pointless.

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Hi @Wanderland

 

Thanks for your question! Looks like you've gotten some great input from the community! A few of our users are making some excellent points about in what circumstances 911 calls are admissible. A central issue our users are debating is if 911 calls are considered hearsay, meaning out of court statements (made by someone not testifying at trial) used to prove the truth of what was stated. These such statements are not admissible at trial, unless they fit into one of the many exceptions to the hearsay rule. LegalWriter and RetiredinVA both noted that 911 calls could fall under the "excited utterance" exception to the hearsay rule.

 

A prosecutor may want to withhold such evidence if it does not support the State's case, however, a prosecutor has a duty to produce exculpatory evidence which tends to prove a criminal defendant's innocence.

 

Let us know if you have additional questions for the community!

The FindLaw.com Team

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