California Evidence Code Section 1240 - Case Laws Example

Evidence Code section 1240 outlines an exception to the hearsay rule for spontaneous statements made under certain specified circumstances. That section provides: "Evidence of a statement is not made inadmissible by the hearsay rule if the statement: "(a) Purports to narrate, describe, or explain an act, condition, or event perceived by the declarant; and "(b) Was made spontaneously while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by such perception." In People v. Gutierrez (2009) 45 Cal.4th 789, the Supreme Court outlined the necessary prerequisites for admitting a hearsay statement pursuant to this exception: " ' "To render statements admissible under the spontaneous declaration exception it is required that (1) there must be some occurrence startling enough to produce this nervous excitement and render the utterance spontaneous and unreflecting; (2) the utterance must have been before there has been time to contrive and misrepresent, i.e., while the nervous excitement may be supposed still to dominate and the reflective powers to be yet in abeyance; (3) the utterance must relate to the circumstance of the occurrence preceding it."' Spontaneous statements are deemed sufficiently trustworthy to be admitted into evidence because ' " 'in the stress of nervous excitement the reflective faculties may be stilled and the utterance may become the unreflecting and sincere expression of one's actual impressions and belief.'" (Id. at pp. 809-810.) "The crucial element in determining whether an out-of-court statement is admissible as a spontaneous statement is the mental state of the speaker." (People v. Gutierrez, supra, 45 Cal.4th at p. 811.)