Is a Radar Gun Readout or Caller ID characterize Inadmissible Hearsay?

As a criminal lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, I regularly have clients arrested for driving while under the influence or possession of drugs ask me, Can the police testify in Court as to the results of a radar gun to show the speed of my means or rely upon a caller ID characterize to prove that I made a phone call?… Shouldnt this evidence be considered inadmissible hearsay? According to Bowe v. State, 785 So.2d 531 (Fla. 4th D.C.A., 2001), radar gun readouts and caller ID displays are not considered inadmissible hearsay and the police can (and ordinarily) introduce this kind of evidence in Court.

The Florida Evidence Code (90.801(1)(c)) defines hearsay as an out-of-court statement of a declarant offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. A declarant is a person who makes a statement. consequently, only statements made by persons fall within the definition of hearsay. This distinction is crucial when calculating what testimony is considered inadmissible hearsay.

Radar gun readouts are often relied upon by police officers to prove an individuals speed of travel in Courtroom proceedings for driving while under the influence. Surprisingly, radar guns do not generate paper printouts for police officers to introduce into evidence. Instead, police officers testify in Court as to what the radar gun registered to prove an individuals speed.

Similarly, caller ID displays are sometimes relied upon by police officers to prove an individuals knowledge or involvement in a crime. For example, a police officer may testify in Court that a caller ID readout of an individuals stated telephone number on an undercover police officers cell phone corroborates that the individual was conspiring with the undercover police officer to sell or buy drugs. Caller ID displays are also relied upon by police officers in domestic violence, stalking, and assault situations.

In both instances, Courts have held that neither the radar gun readouts nor the caller ID displays are considered hearsay because of their designation as machines, and not persons, capable of being a declarant within the definition of hearsay. Importantly, these statements (i.e. actual radar readings) are not generated by persons. Conversely, out of court statements generated by persons (i.e. email strings) offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted are considered hearsay. For example, a observe testifying to statements he/she read from an email would be considered hearsay as the email was generated by a person, not a machine.

The main justification for the hearsay rule is to provide a defendant the opportunity to cross-examine a decalrant who made an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Remembering that one does not cross examine a machine; one cross-examines the person who operated or maintained the machine. In situations involving a radar gun readout or caller ID characterize, the information introduced is limited to numbers generated by machines, not persons. Additionally, this information cannot be influenced or manipulated by other individuals. As a consequence, the proper cure to challenge the evidence is by either: attacking the reliability of the declarants statements (i.e. a declarant may have a reason to lie to bolster his case or justify an arrest); highlighting that the declarant could have misread or improperly transcribed the numbers; attacking the reliability of the machine, if applicable; attacking the declarants ability to read/understand the machines results (i.e. complicated program to interpret retina scans); or by challenging the relevancy of the evidence.

As nothing can be more damning evidence at trial then a radar gun readout or caller ID characterize, it is important to closest contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to review such evidence and attack its admissibility or weight at trial.

The information in this article site was developed by Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A. for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The transmission and receipt of information from this article does not form or constitute an attorney-client relationship with Lyons, Snyder & Collin. Persons receiving the information from this article should not act upon the information provided without seeking profession legal counsel.

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