Prior Inconsistent Statement Law and Legal Definition

A prior inconsistent statement is an exception to the hearsay rule, which prohibits out-of-court statements from being offered for the truth therein. An adverse party may impeach the testimony of a witness by showing, through cross-examination, that the witness has previously made a statement which is inconsistent with the testimony he has given on the stand. Because the prior inconsistent statement is not being offered for the truth of the matter it asserts, and is being offered only to impeach credibility, it does not fall within the hearsay rule.

A statement is not hearsay if the declarant testifies at the trial or hearing and is subject to cross-examination concerning the statement and the statement is inconsistent with the declarant's prior testimony and was given under oath subject to the penalty of perjury at a trial, hearing, or other proceeding or in a deposition.