Statement Against Interest Law and Legal Definition

A statement against interest are those statements which so far tend to subject the declarant to civil or criminal liability that a reasonable person in the position of declarant would not have made the statement unless the person believed it to be true. A person would not normally make a statement against interest because it will put him/her in a disadvantaged position in a proceeding in a trial. For example, any statement in the form of an apology by a person who is involved in an automobile accident is a statement against interest because it represents an admission of liability. Statements against interest are considered particularly trustworthy, since people generally do not lightly make statements that are damaging to their interests. Thus, such statements are considered reliable, regardless of whether or not the criminal defendant is the declarant of the statement.

Following is an example of a state statute explaining the term “statement against interest.” Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 908.045 (4) “A statement which was at the time of its making so far contrary to the declarants pecuniary or proprietary interest, or so far tended to subject the declarant to civil or criminal liability or to render invalid a claim by the declarant against another or to make the declarant an object of hatred, ridicule, or disgrace, that a reasonable person in the declarants position would not have made the statement unless the person believed it to be true. A statement tending to expose the declarant to criminal liability and offered to exculpate the accused is not admissible unless corroborated.”

In addition, pursuant to USCS Fed Rules Evid R 804(b)(3), statement against interest means “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.”