Rules of Evidence and how they apply

O.C.G.A 15-11-17 B of the new juvenile code State's except as otherwise provided, all hearings shall be conducted in accordance with title 24. In all preliminary or commitment hearings, rules of evidence shall apply except that hearsay shall be admissible. Juvenile delinquency adjudications have basic constitutional rights, such as the privilege against self-incrimination and the right of confrontation. Juvenile detention hearing and transfer hearings are akin to preliminary hearings in a criminal case in that the issue is whether there are reasonable grounds to believe the juvenile committed the acts alleged. Thus although the rules of evidence generally apply at such hearing, hearsay is admissible. In disposition hearings after an adjudication of delinquency, the court may consider any evidence including hearsay evidence that the court finds to be relevant, reliable, and necessary. The parties shall have the right to cross-examine the authors of any written reports submitted to the court. Hearings on dependency and termination of parental rights are governed by the rules of evidence, except that certain privileges do not apply. Parents have a due process right to confront witnesses in a dependency or termination of rights hearing. In interest of CW D 232 Ga. App. 200 (1998). O.C.G.A 1 with the adoption of the new Georgia rules of evidence hearsay is no longer considered illegal evidence without probative value and thus aberrational cases such as In re A.R. 296 Ga. App. 60 (2009) which held that hearsay was inadmissible in dispositional hearings are no longer viable. Statements by a child in the course of court ordered assessments, evaluations, and counseling, are generally inadmissible against the child with some exceptions. Disposition of a child and evidence adduced at a juvenile court hearing are generally inadmissible in unrelated proceedings. Statements by respondent in a dependency or termination of parental rights hearing are generally inadmissible in unrelated criminal or civil cases.

In the Probate Court the rules of evidence are applied to civil or criminal proceedings in which evidence is received and examined. The rules of evidence apply to criminal commitment or probable cause hearings in probate court's to the same extent as an superior or magistrate courts and the rules of evidence apply except that hearsay is admitted. In magistrate courts under O.C.G.A 15-10-44 B the judge shall conduct the trial in such a manner as to do substantial justice between the parties according to the rules of substantive law. All rules and regulations relating to pleading, practice, and procedure shall be liberally construed so as to administer justice. Criminal commitment or probable cause hearings are conducted according to the rules of evidence although hearsay is admitted. Mag. Ct. rule 25.2(C)(1). Contact a Paulding County criminal defense lawyer today.

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