Rule 802 – The Rule Against Hearsay

Hearsay is not admissible unless any of the following provides otherwise:

  • a federal statute;
  • these rules; or
  • other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court.

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Evidence 802 is commonly referred to as the “Hearsay Rule.” It serves as a fundamental rule that establishes the general prohibition against the use of inadmissible hearsay evidence in legal proceedings.

Key points regarding Rule 802:

  1. Hearsay Exclusion: Rule 802 states that hearsay evidence is not admissible in court unless it falls within a recognized exception. Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered in court to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement, and it is generally considered unreliable because the declarant is not subject to cross-examination.
  2. Importance of Exceptions: While Rule 802 sets the default rule against hearsay, it acknowledges that there are exceptions to this rule under other provisions of the Federal Rules of Evidence. These exceptions are designed to admit certain types of hearsay evidence that are considered reliable and necessary for a fair and accurate adjudication of a case.
  3. Purpose of the Rule: The primary purpose of Rule 802 is to maintain the integrity of the trial process by ensuring that evidence presented to the court is based on reliable and trustworthy sources. It aims to prevent the admission of evidence that might be tainted by bias, miscommunication, or inaccuracy.

Rule 802 establishes the fundamental principle that hearsay evidence is generally not admissible in court unless it fits within one of the recognized exceptions. This rule helps maintain the quality and reliability of evidence presented during legal proceedings and ensures that parties have a fair opportunity to challenge and cross-examine the evidence offered against them.


(Pub. L. 93–595, §1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1939; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Proposed Rules

The provision excepting from the operation of the rule hearsay which is made admissible by other rules adopted by the Supreme Court or by Act of Congress continues the admissibility thereunder of hearsay which would not qualify under these Evidence Rules. The following examples illustrate the working of the exception:

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 4(g): proof of service by affidavit.

Rule 32: admissibility of depositions.

Rule 43(e): affidavits when motion based on facts not appearing of record.

Rule 56: affidavits in summary judgment proceedings.

Rule 65(b): showing by affidavit for temporary restraining order.

Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

Rule 4(a): affidavits to show grounds for issuing warrants.

Rule 12(b)(4): affidavits to determine issues of fact in connection with motions.

Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment

The language of Rule 802 has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.

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