Evidence of a dying declaration may be admitted as an exception to the hearsay rule where the trial judge is satisfied that several conditions have been met. The declaration must be made by an individual who has since died, and who was expecting an almost immediate death when the statement was made. The declaration must have been about the death, including what caused the death or who caused the death. This means that the statement must be directly related to the circumstances surrounding the declarant’s death. The court must also evaluate the state of mind of the declarant at the time the statement was made before determining whether the evidence can be allowed in at trial.
To evaluate the state of mind of the declarant at the time the statement was made, the court will hear evidence on the statements of the declarant as well as other individuals who were present at the time, the nature and extent of the declarant’s injuries, and how soon they died after the statement was made. If too much time has passed between the making of the statement and the death of the declaration, the statement will be considered hearsay and rendered inadmissible.
Dying declarations are only permitted in cases involving murder charges where the statement was made by the deceased and relates to the subject matter of the murder trial.
Person A is found by person B in a parking lot bleeding out from a number of stab wounds to the chest. Person B attempts to help person A and calls 911. Before help can arrive, person A says, “Person C stabbed me”. Person A dies from their injury’s seconds later. Person A’s statement of who killed them would be admissible under the dying declaration exception to the hearsay rule.