Dying Declaration Exception Used in Suisun City Stabbing Case (CA Evidence Code §1240 – §1242)

Rabin Nabizadeh
June 25, 2013

The victim in a stabbing on Worley Road in Suisun City managed to give local law enforcement officials the name of her attacker before expiring.  After an argument on the 1300 block of Worley Road, the unnamed target was stabbed repeatedly.  Police have yet to release the name of the suspect, but are on his or her trail.

This brings up an interesting legal question, namely whether or not utterances that would normally be considered inadmissible in court because they are considered hearsay could be admitted because they are “dying declarations.”

According to California Evidence Code, hearsay (statements uttered by persons who may not be reliable witnesses or that cannot be appropriately substantiated) is not admissible as evidence in a court of law.  However, there are several exceptions to this rule (Chapter 2, CA Evidence Code). Outright confessions are one example of this, but so are dying declarations (CA Evidence Code §1240-§1242). A dying declaration is exactly what one may think – a statement made by a victim as they are taking often their last breaths.  This is not considered hearsay because the victim has direct knowledge of the crime.  A dying victim has every right to alert law enforcement officials to the identity of their assailant and to the circumstances of their demise.  Other exceptions to the hearsay rule concerning evidence are: official records, former testimony, scientific publications, and statements made against abusers by children under 12 years of age.

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