Jailhouse Confession Transferring Blame-Not Allowed
Jailhouse statements made to an informant to minimize a defendant’s role and shift blame to his co-defendants do not qualify as declarations against his interest-exception to Hearsay Rule.
Hearsay (out of court) statements are generally inadmissible as they are not made under oath and the adverse party has no opportunity to cross-examine, and the jury cannot observe the declarant’s demeanor while making the statements. The rule however, has several exceptions. One such exception, set forth in Evidence Code section 1230, permits the admission of any statement that “when made, . . . so far subjected the declarant to the risk of . . . criminal liability . . . that a reasonable man in his position would not have made the statement unless he believed it to be true.” The rationale is that a person who criminally implicates himself is acting against his interests and therefore the statement has a “reasonable assurance of the veracity.”
Such a statement is more likely to satisfy the against-interest exception when the declarant accepts responsibility and denies or diminishes others’ responsibility, as in the example “I robbed the store alone,” as opposed to attempting to assign greater blame to others, as in the example, “I did it, but X is guiltier than I am.”
Reference: People v. Gallardo, B269034(Second Appellate District), December 6, 2017
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