United Arab Emirates: Res Gestae – The American Criminal Law Concept

Last Updated: 2 October 2019
Article by STA Law Firm
Most Read Contributor in United Arab Emirates, September 2019

Introduction

The United States (US) has a well-established regulatory structure and close to 250 years of growth and development in this respect. As such, the nation is known around the world as having one of the best, most open fair systems around. While it isn't at the very top areas of the rankings, the systems in place and the records are all impressive none the less.

However, even with such deeply established systems and regulations, there is continued evolution to this day with considerable discussion arising on both civil and criminal law as well as court proceedings of both.

Actions or activities that are considered harmful or threatening make up the bulk of these. The country has a common law system, and so the general process in the simplest terms for a criminal case is as follows:

  1. A charge must initially arise. In criminal cases, this is usually done by the government, and a Bill of Information should be brought forth with the accusations;
  2. Alternatively to the Bill, the evidence surrounding the case should go to a grand jury who will decide whether a claim should arise. If they choose as such, this will result in an indictment;
  3. Following this, the court assembles with a Judge and Jury, and the court proceeding occur with evidence arising from both the defence and prosecution parties;
  4. As this is a common law nation, it is the role of the Judge to then advise the Jury based on the evidence concerning the law. The Judge's duty is not to form a verdict but is present merely to ensure the standing of the law is known to the Jury. Further, they provide that the Jury is aware of concepts such as evidence beyond a reasonable doubt;
  5. Once the Jury delivers the judgement, it is up to the Judge to dictate the appropriate sentence.

Another of the crucial details that arise when considering common law states is that case laws are law in themselves. They are referred to as Stare Decisis or Judge made Laws.

Res Gestae is a legal doctrine found in the US which concerns the matter of hearsay evidence presented in a courtroom during a criminal case. This concept will be the primary concentration of this piece, and it shall de be delved into deeply.

What is Hearsay Evidence?

Hearsay evidence relates to pieces of evidence utilised and relied upon in the courtroom that arises outside of it. It often relates to third parties not presented as witnesses, or witnesses mentioning proof provided to them by others. Therefore, it is not considered as reliable or usable in many cases.

The reason hearsay evidence often does not arise in a criminal case relates to the severe nature of the case. In criminal matters, the life of an individual is often greatly affected, whether that is through prison time, significant fines or even simply reputational damage. This severity is the very reason for the existence of the 'beyond reasonable doubt' concept. It would thus be foolish to impact someone due to hearsay evidence so adversely.

However, this doesn't mean that hearsay evidence is not admissible in court. It would only be accepted, though, under the appropriate circumstances. The Federal Rules of Evidence is the US regulation regarding all evidence, and it states that hearsay evidence is prohibited unless a specific set of criteria occur.

A crucial case which has expanded the understanding relating to hearsay is the case of Crawford v Washington, 514 US 36 (2004). In this case, Mr and Mrs Crawford confronted another individual who Mrs Crawford claimed had attempted to rape her. During the confrontation, Mr Crawford ended up stabbing the other man in the torso. Mr Crawford subsequently contended that at the time, he believed the other individual had a weapon, and the action was one of self-defence. Both the Crawford's were separately interviewed, though due to the spousal privilege law, Mrs Crawford was unable to testify during the hearings. In her interview, she claimed that she was aware that the stabbed individual did not have a weapon.

However, the prosecution wished to utilise her interview statements in their argument, and the court allowed for this. Because Mrs Crawford could not testify in court, the evidence would fall under the category of hearsay.

The reason it was permitted to be used in the court hearing was as such:

  1. Mrs Crawford was not allowed to present her evidence for legal reasons, rather than merely being absent;
  2. The evidence also held significant sway in the case and resulted in Mr Crawford being found guilty, and finally;
  3. The evidence overlapped with her husbands to a significant enough degree.

This case was appealed, and the Court of Appeal overturned the conviction based on the fact that the wife's hearsay evidence was not allowed in court. Finally, though, the case went to the Washington Supreme Court, where the three above mentioned points were confirmed, and the conviction received reinstatement.

What is Res Gestae?

The Res Gestae doctrine is one particular method through which hearsay evidence can be utilised in a criminal case. The phrase itself literally translates to 'things done'. It related to a statement made by a person in an instant or spontaneously, and as such, the report itself can be taken to be true. Therefore, the account is admissible in court while also being hearsay.

One case which utilised the concept of Res Gestae was that of State v Fetelee 151, 157 P.3d 590 (App.2007)of 2008, which occurred in Hawaii. In the case, the defendant was on trial for three specific acts. These included attempted murder of one individual as well as the assault of another. One of the first pieces of proof used related to this incident was a piece of Res Gestae evidence. However, Fetelee claimed that this evidence was not viable under the Hawaii Rules of Evidence (HRE), and as such further testing and evidence should receive more considerable attention.

Further to this, there was evidence presented in the case supporting Fetelee. This evidence included an eye witness who saw certain parts of the 'attempted murder'. However, their viewing was not of the entire situation.

The case was appealed, though the court agreed with the decision of the court of first instance. Thus Fetelee was convicted on all three counts he had been brought forth on. These included attempted murder, assault and also a theft of the fourth degree.

Through looking at this case, it is clear that Res Gestae scan confuse the parties, though it can also act as evidence during times where there is no other. The issues brought forward concerning the topic can be summarised as follows.

Issues Surrounding Res Gestae

The fundamental nature of the Res Gestae doctrine relies on spontaneous statements for third parties who are not partaking in the court proceedings themselves. There have thus arisen concerns surrounding the legitimacy of the concept and its use.

One of the vital issues or questions that comes up is that if a spontaneous statement is made, does that necessarily indicate it is true. That is the concept of Res Gestae at the most basic levels, and saying it as such gives rise to questions of its legitimacy by many.

Further to this, considering the nature of the evidence, it can cause significant confusion in cases where there is differing evidence. In many ways, it can often be considered weaker than other types of proof and can be overruled.

This is not to say that the concept does not have uses. Hearsay evidence may occasionally arise as the strongest available to a party, and under the appropriate circumstances, it can turn the tides of a case. As previously mentioned, criminal cases place the lives of the defendant in the hands of the justice system. As such, if appropriate information arises which finds the defendant not guilty, the court should consider it, and if it is relevant and reliable, utilise it.

Conclusion

Hearsay evidence in a court case is an interesting discussion. There are many cases where its use has arisen. However, there is a general guideline that courts follow to dictate their appropriateness, such as those found in Crawford v Washington.

Res Gestae is a specific type of exception which considers spontaneous statements made by a third party outside of the courtroom (thus it is hearsay). It is then used as evidence for a trial. Questions have arisen concerning this method and whether it is acceptable, though it currently stands as one of the few exceptional situations in which hearsay evidence may enter a courtroom.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions