Thank you for the opportunity to assist you.
Q) Is this reservation slip admissible as evidence that the defendant stayed at the hotel
Possibly. There are two evidentiary issues here: relevance (and the sub-issue of foundation) and hearsay.Relevance
In order for evidence to be admitted, it must be relevant. Relevant evidence is any evidence that tends to prove or disprove a fact that is in controversy.
In this case, it appears that one of the factual issues is whether or not the defendant was at the hotel. These records are probably relevant because they show that the defendant made a reservation at the hotel.
While the records may not show the defendant actually checked IN to the hotel, they still are likely probative as to whether or not the defendant was at the hotel. After all, they tend to show the defendant, at least at some point, had the intention of being at the hotel.
Speaking of the issue of the defendant's name, there is a sub-issue here: foundation. You could object to the record, saying that someone with the defendant's NAME made a reservation, but unless the prosecutor can show that actual someone was the defendant him/herself who made the reservation, then the record is not relevant. This might work if the name is "XXXXX XXXXX" or "XXXXX XXXXX" etc. If it's a less common name, the judge may just bypass this objection completely.Hearsay
Unless properly authenticated at trial
, these documents are hearsay and should not be admitted into evidence. Hearsay is a statement made by an out of court
declarant which is offered in court for the truth of the matter asserted.
The truth of the matter is what the records purport to show: that the defendant made a reservation at a particular hotel. Someone made this record out of court. If the record is offered in court for the truth of the matter, it's hearsay.
The exception to the hearsay rule that may apply here is the business records exception. A business record will be admitted in court for the truth of the matters asserted therein when the record is properly authenticated.
There are certain rules, which vary from state to state, that the proponent of the evidence must observe and comply with in order to authenticate a business record. For example, the record must have been made in the regular course of business; it must be a record that is routinely made and not one that was made especially for a certain person or event.
The record must also made at or very near the time of the event. So, say the defendant called in and said, "I'd like a reservation at your motel!" If the record of that conversation, transmittal of a credit card
number to reserve the room, etc., is made at or near the time of the call, that's probably good enough.
Finally, a person who is the custodian of the record should appear in court with the appropriate record or records and verify for the judge or jury that the records were made in the normal course of business and at or near the time of the event. The custodian might be a manager of a certain hotel, or a bookkeeper, etc.
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