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Applicability of the Rules of Evidence

Generally, the Rules of Evidence apply in trials. But the rules will often come into play in some form if a hearing is a final adjudication of the defendant’s rights. The rules do not apply in preliminary hearings or sentencing hearings (except for capital cases). However, even if the rules do not directly apply, a judge will likely follow the spirit and common sense application of them. Look to SCRE 1101 for specifications about when the rules apply.

· S.C. Dep't of Motor Vehicles v. McCarson, 391 S.C. 136 (2011) The Rules of Evidence apply in driving license suspension hearings. Hearsay is allowed in preliminary hearings because these hearings are not a final adjudication of a defendant’s rights.


· State v. Gulledge, 326 S.C. 220 (1997) The Rules of Evidence are inapplicable at sentencing hearings (except capital cases). Restitution hearings are considered part of the sentencing hearing.


· State v. Burkhart, 371 S.C. 482 (2007) Evidence admitted at a capital trial sentencing phase must be relevant to the “character of the defendant or the circumstances of the crime.”