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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Woodlands Criminal Defense Attorney - Texas Rules of Evidence Series RULE 602

Criminal Defense Attorney in the Woodlands, Texas.

You can't talk about things you don't really know. But that has never stopped anyone from sharing what they think. In court however an attorney for the opposing side will object that under RULE 602 the witness lacks personal knowledge.

This is kind of an extension of the hearsay rule. If you don't know something from personal knowledge like seeing the event take place or hearing a gunshot that is the subject of a case, then you probably know things about the case through other means like hearsay. Hearsay is when someone else tells you what happens. Of course personal knowledge is a little different. Maybe it is important that you heard someone tell you something. That wouldn't be hearsay if the purpose is to prove that the statement was made and not that the statement was true.

For example if a man ran out of a movie theatre screaming "fire" and that caused someone else to walk into the street and get hit by a bus, then perhaps you don't have personal knowledge about a fire but you would have personal knowledge about the events which you saw transpire, namely the person yelling fire and the other person walking into the street and getting hit by a bus. “Personal knowledge will often come directly from the witness's senses.” Fairow v. State, 943 S.W.2d 895, 898 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). “Lape v. State, 893 S.W.2d 949 (Tex.App. Houston [14th] 1994)(abuse of discretion occurred when lay-witness not permitted to give an opinion on how sound traveled in her home)(all emphases added)” Fairow v. State, 943 S.W.2d 895, 898 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997).

A witness may even testify that the defendant had a certain mental state even though it is impossible for anyone but the person to have "person knowledge" of a mental state. This is true once the reason for the witnesses opinion about the defendant's mental state has been proved to be based on personal knowledge. “[H]erefore, we conclude that once the proponent of the opinion establishes personal knowledge of the facts underlying the opinion, he has satisfied the perception requirement of Rule 701. This is so even if the opinion concerns culpable mental state. See Tex.R.Crim. Evid. 704.” Fairow v. State, 943 S.W.2d 895, 899 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997).

If the witness is an expert witness then there is no need for personal knowledge because experts may rely on hearsay.

Rule 602. Need for Personal Knowledge A witness may testify to a matter only if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may consist of the witness’s own testimony. This rule does not apply to a witness’s expert testimony under Rule 703.


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