708.12Reputation as to Character [Rule 803(21)]
- Evidence about the reputation of a person’s character is not barred by the hearsay rules.
- However, the admissibility of evidence regarding a person’s character is more specifically limited by several other rules of evidence (e.g., rules on impeachment generally, habit or routine, prior bad acts, religious beliefs, and sexual history).
The Basic Rule
Rule 803(21) – Reputation as to Character
Reputation of a person's character among his associates or in the community.
Admissibility and Scope
Rule 803(21) is premised on the “the traditional acceptance of reputation evidence as a means of proving human character.” G.S. 8C-803(21), Official Commentary. See, e.g., State v. Wall, 87 N.C. App. 621 (1987) (no error where state cross-examined defense witnesses about rumors of defendant’s affair with a teenager after witnesses had testified about defendant’s “general reputation” on direct examination; although the reputation questions "concerned hearsay statements they were not banned by the general rule against hearsay. G.S. 8C-1, Rule 803(21).”).
However, Rule 803(21) “deals only with the hearsay aspect of this kind of evidence,” and “limitations upon admissibility based on other grounds will be found in Rules 404, relevancy of character evidence generally, and 608, character of witness.” G.S. 8C-803(21), Official Commentary.
For more information about the admissibility of evidence regarding character or reputation in particular situations, see the following related Evidence entries: