Admissibility of Defendant’s Admissions  

In all court proceedings, both civil and criminal, the Florida Evidence Code prohibits the admission of hearsay statements. Hearsay is defined as an out-of-court statement offered at trial for the purpose of “proving the truth of the matter asserted.”

As is often the case with many statutes, there are exceptions to the general hearsay rule. Florida Evidence Code, Section 90.803 (18)(a) provides that a “statement offered against a party” that is “the party’s own statement in either an individual or representative capacity” is an exception to the hearsay rule and can be admitted in court proceedings, including trial, as evidence against the defendant.

The law appears to allow into evidence anything a defendant has said to anyone indicating or admitting guilt or which provide an inference of guilt. Fortunately, there are exceptions to the hearsay rule.

When Statements Have Been Suppressed

When the statements of the defendant the prosecution wants to introduce into evidence were obtained pursuant to an illegal custodial interrogation, and a motion to suppress those statements has been granted, the statements will not be admitted. This only applies to the statements made to law enforcement that were illegally obtained. If the defendant made the same statement to a friend, family member, cell mate or any other person, those folks will be allowed to testify to the admission made to them by the defendant.

Statements Made During Plea Negotiations

If the defendant makes incriminating statements during plea negotiations, and negotiations are unsuccessful and the defendant later goes to trial, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 3.172(i) prohibits admitting into evidence at a trial any evidence that the defendant even engaged in plea negotiations. This includes any statement made by the defendant during those negotiations. Those statements are inadmissible at trial.

Again, the caveat applies that although the statement made during plea negotiations is inadmissible, if the same statement was given to law enforcement during a legal interrogation, or made to anyone else, those parties may testify as to the specific statement the defendant made to them.

If you are under investigation or have already been charged with a criminal offense, contact a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of James Davis, P.A. He will discuss your case with you, analyze any statements you have made and work with you to prepare your defense.


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