Lying to the Police on a 911 Call

In State v. Brown 127 Wn.2d 749, 903 P.2d 459 (1995), the alleged rape victim reported to police authorities that she was abducted and raped. At a pretrial hearing, the trial court ruled the 911 tape of her telephone call was admissible as an excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule. At trial, the victim testified she had lied to the police about being abducted because she thought they would not take the case seriously, knowing she was a prostitute and had agreed to meet with the defendant to commit fellatio for money. The Court reversed the defendant's conviction, concluding the trial court had abused its discretion in ruling the alleged victim's 911 telephone call was an excited utterance, holding that her testimony evidenced not only the opportunity to fabricate, but represented an actual fabrication of part of her story prior to making the 911 call. Brown, 127 Wn.2d at 757-59. the Court held that the statements made during the 911 call did not fall within the purview of the excited utterance exception, noting that the exception is based on the idea that "'under certain external circumstances of physical shock, a stress of nervous excitement may be produced which stills the reflective faculties and removes their control.'" Brown, 127 Wn.2d at 758. Because it was apparent that the alleged victim had fabricated a portion of her story, the Court concluded that the victim's reflective faculties were not stilled; rather, they were fully functional.