Evidence Law. The term “excited utterance” refers to a statement about a startling event made under the stress and excitement of the event. This statement may be admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule.
See, e.g., Federal Rule of Evidence 803(2): “The following are not excluded by the rule against hearsay, regardless of whether the declarant is available as a witness . . . (2) Excited Utterance. A statement relating to a startling event or condition, made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement that it caused.”
See also Zuliani v. Texas, 97 S.W.3d 589 (2003):
Hearsay is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at a trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Tex.R. Evid. 801(d). In order for hearsay to be admissible, it must fit into an exception provided by a statute or the Rules of Evidence. Tex.R. Evid. 802. One such exception is Rule 803(2), the excited utterance exception.
An excited utterance is “a statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition.” Tex.R. Evid. 803(2); Salazar v. State, 38 S.W.3d 141, 154 (Tex.Crim.App.2001). The basis for the excited utterance exception is “a psychological one, namely, the fact that when a man is in the instant grip of violent emotion, excitement or pain, he ordinarily loses the capacity for reflection necessary to the fabrication of a falsehood and the `truth will come out.’” Evans v. State, 480 S.W.2d 387, 389 (Tex.Crim.App.1972) (emphasis added). In other words, the statement is trustworthy because it represents an event speaking through the person rather than the person speaking about the event. Ibid.; Ricondo v. State, 475 S.W.2d 793, 796 (Tex.Crim.App.1971).
In determining whether a hearsay statement is admissible as an excited utterance, the court may consider the time elapsed and whether the statement was in response to a question. Salazar, 38 S.W.3d at 154; Ward v. State, 657 S.W.2d 133, 135-36 (Tex.Crim.App. [Panel Op.] 1983); Fisk v. State, 432 S.W.2d 912, 914-15 596*596 (Tex.Crim.App.1968). However, it is not dispositive that the statement is an answer to a question or that it was separated by a period of time from the startling event; these are simply factors to consider in determining whether the statement is admissible under the excited utterance hearsay exception. See Lawton v. State, 913 S.W.2d 542, 553 (Tex.Crim.App. 1995); Penry v. State, 903 S.W.2d 715, 750-51 (Tex.Crim.App.1995); McFarland v. State, 845 S.W.2d 824, 846 (Tex.Crim. App.1992).
The critical determination is “whether the declarant was still dominated by the emotions, excitement, fear, or pain of the event” or condition at the time of the statement. McFarland, 845 S.W.2d at 846. Stated differently, a reviewing court must determine whether the statement was made “under such circumstances as would reasonably show that it resulted from impulse rather than reason and reflection.” Fowler v. State, 379 S.W.2d 345, 347 (Tex.Crim.App.1964).