When are out of court statements from children admissible?
In a Missouri criminal case, there are certain situations where out of court statements from children under fourteen are admissible without that child having to testify. The determination of whether or not this hearsay is admissible is governed by statute. Section 491.075 RSMo. covers certain crimes where it is alleged that an offense has been performed against a child and there is a witness who is under fourteen years of age who made out of court statements concerning the alleged crime. In these instances, upon objection of the use of these statements during trial, the court must hold a hearing to determine if the statements can be used.
Before the hearing, the prosecuting attorney must make known to the defendant or the defendant’s attorney his or her intention to offer the statements and the particulars of the statements to be used.
During the hearing there is no burden on either party. The court must simply make a fact based determination of several requirements. First, the court must determine whether or not the statements provide sufficient indicia of reliability. Second, the child must also testify at the trial, or the court must determine that if the child were to testify it would cause the child significant emotional or psychological trauma as a result of testifying in front of the defendant.