Question: What is an “Excited Utterance” as it relates to the hearsay rule?
Answer: Hearsay is defined as an out-of-court statement offered in court to prove the truth of the matter asserted. As an exception to the hearsay rule, Ind. Evidence Rule 803(2) provides that an excited utterance is admissible even if the declarant is available as a witness. In order for a hearsay statement to be admitted as an excited utterance, three elements must be present: (1) a startling event has occurred; (2) a statement was made by a declarant while under the stress of excitement caused by the event; and (3) the statement relates to the event. This is not a mechanical test; admissibility turns on whether the statement was inherently reliable because the witness was under the stress of the event and unlikely to make deliberate falsifications. The heart of the inquiry is whether declarant was incapable of thoughtful reflection. Additionally, while a statement is generally less likely to be admitted as an excited utterance if it is made long after the startling event, the amount of time that has passed is not dispositive.