Statement against interest

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In United States law, a statement against interest is a statement a person would not normally make, usually in reference to a proceeding in a trial, which would put them in a disadvantaged position to that they would have had if they had not made the statement in the first place. For example, if a person is involved in an automobile accident, in some cases their insurance contract specifically prohibits the insured from offering an apology or other similar statements on the grounds that it may represent an admission of liability.

It is analogous to the criminal equivalent, the statement against penal interest which is a statement that puts the person making the statement at risk of prosecution.

In certain circumstances, it can be a factor in allowing as evidence statements that would otherwise be excluded through the law of hearsay.

Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 804(b)(3) provides:

"A statement that:

(A) a reasonable person in the declarant’s position would have made only if the person believed it to be true because, when made, it was so contrary to the declarant’s proprietary or pecuniary interest or had so great a tendency to invalidate the declarant’s claim against someone else or to expose the declarant to civil or criminal liability; and

(B) is supported by corroborating circumstances that clearly indicate its trustworthiness, if it is offered in a criminal case as one that tends to expose the declarant to criminal liability." See Fed. R. Evid. 804(b)(3). The rule was last amended on December 1, 2010. See Legislative History (with links to key documents).

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