Rule 801. Definitions That Apply to This Article.
(a) Statement. Statement means a persons oral assertion, written assertion, or nonverbal conduct, if the person intended it as an assertion.
(b) Declarant. Declarant means the person who made the statement.
(c) Hearsay. Hearsay means a statement that
(1) the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing; and
(2) a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.
Pa.R.E. 801(a), (b) and (c) are identical to F.R.E. 801(a), (b) and (c). The matters set out in F.R.E. 801(d)(1) (A Declarant-Witnesss Prior Statement) are covered in Pa.R.E. 803.1(1) and (2) and Pa.R.E. 613(c). The matters set out in F.R.E. 801(d)(2) (An Opposing Partys Statement) are covered in Pa.R.E. 803(25).
Communications that are not assertions are not hearsay. These would include questions, greetings, expressions of gratitude, exclamations, offers, instructions, warnings, etc.
Pa.R.E. 801(c), which defines hearsay, is consistent with Pennsylvania law, although the Pennsylvania cases have usually defined hearsay as an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted instead of the definition used Pa.R.E. 801(c). See Heddings v. Steele, 514 Pa. 569, 526 A.2d 349 (1987). The adoption of the language of the Federal Rule is not intended to change existing law.
A statement is hearsay only if it is offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. There are many situations in which evidence of a statement is offered for a purpose other than to prove the truth of the matter asserted.
Sometimes a statement has direct legal significance, whether or not it is true. For example, one or more statements may constitute an offer, an acceptance, a promise, a guarantee, a notice, a representation, a misrepresentation, defamation, perjury, compliance with a contractual or statutory obligation, etc.
More often, a statement, whether or not it is true, constitutes circumstantial evidence from which the trier of fact may infer, alone or in combination with other evidence, the existence or non-existence of a fact in issue. For example, a declarants statement may imply his or her particular state of mind, or it may imply that a particular state of mind ensued in the recipient. Evidence of a statement, particularly if it is proven untrue by other evidence, may imply the existence of a conspiracy, or fraud. Evidence of a statement made by a witness, if inconsistent with the witnesss testimony, may imply that the witness is an unreliable historian. Conversely, evidence of a statement made by a witness that is consistent with the witnesss testimony may imply the opposite. See Pa.R.E. 613(c).
Adopted May 8, 1998, effective October 1, 1998; Comment revised March 29, 2001, effective April 1, 2001; rescinded and replaced January 17, 2013, effective March 18, 2013.
Committee Explanatory Reports:
Final Report explaining the March 29, 2001 revision of the Comment published with the Courts Order at 31 Pa.B. 1995 (April 14, 2001).
Final Report explaining the January 17, 2013 rescission and replacement published with the Courts Order at 43 Pa.B. 651 (February 2, 2013).
The provisions of this Rule 801 amended March 29, 2001, effective April 1, 2001, 31 Pa.B. 1993; rescinded and replaced January 17, 2013, effective in sixty days, 43 Pa.B. 620. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (308922) to (308923) and (276587).
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