Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Defendants in criminal cases have the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against them. Allowing the police officer to testify as to what a non-appearing witness told him would violate the defendant's right to confront and cross-examine that witness. With very few exceptions, this is not permissible.
Furthermore, the statements of a witness to a police officer which are recorded in a police report would be hearsay if offered into evidence at trial and would, with some exceptions none of which would appear to apply here, be inadmissible for that reason.
In criminal cases, there are usually no pre-trial depositions. There are some limited circumstances under which a sworn statement may be taken from a witness (such as when the witness is dying and will not survive until the trial) and used at trial. If the defendant has already been charged, this will be done with attorneys for both sides present. If no defendant has yet been identified, it can be done by the prosecution alone and perhaps used at trial (after a big fight against it by the defense attorney).
If a witness testified in some previous hearing in the criminal case (such as a preliminary hearing in a felony) and the prosecution can demonstrate that the witness is unavailable to testify at trial, despite diligent efforts to secure the attendance of the witness, the preliminary hearing testimony may be admissible.
Police officers can testify only to what they saw and what physical evidence they gathered. Generally speaking, they cannot testify to what is in their police reports unless their original testimony is impeached in some way and the report can rehabilitate the testimony; or, if they cannot remember some detail which is otherwise admissible, they can use the report to refresh their recollection or to read from as a "past recollecton recorded".
Thank you for the accept.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).