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Illinois Rules of Evidence | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Illinois Rules of Evidence Committee Commentary

On January 1, 2011, by order of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Rules of Evidence will govern proceedings in the courts of Illinois except as otherwise provided in Rule 1101.

On November 24, 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court created the Special Supreme Court Committee on Illinois Evidence (Committee) and charged it with codifying the law of evidence in the state of Illinois.

Currently, Illinois rules of evidence are dispersed throughout case law, statutes, and Illinois Supreme Court rules, requiring that they be researched and ascertained from a number of sources. Trial practice requires that the most frequently used rules of evidence be readily accessible, preferably in an authoritative form. The Committee believes that having all of the basic rules of evidence in one easily accessible, authoritative source will substantially increase the efficiency of the trial process as well as expedite the resolution of cases on trial for the benefit of the practicing bar, the judiciary, and the litigants involved. The Committee further believes that the codification and promulgation of the Illinois Rules of Evidence will serve to improve the trial process itself as well as the quality of justice in Illinois.

It is important to note that the Illinois Rules of Evidence are not intended to abrogate or supersede any current statutory rules of evidence. The Committee sought to avoid in all instances affecting the validity of any existing statutes promulgated by the Illinois legislature. The Illinois Rules of Evidence are not intended to preclude the Illinois legislature from acting in the future with respect to the law of evidence in a manner that will not be in conflict with the Illinois Rules of Evidence, as reflected in Rule 101.

Based upon the charge and mandate to the Committee, and consistent with the above considerations, the Committee drafted the Illinois Rules of Evidence in accordance with the following principles:

(1) Codification: With the exception of the two areas discussed below under “Recommendations,” the Committee incorporated into the Illinois Rules of Evidence the current law of evidence in Illinois whenever the Illinois Supreme Court or the Illinois Appellate Court had clearly spoken on a principle of evidentiary law within the last 50 or so years. Thus, Rule 702 retains the Frye standard for expert opinion evidence pursuant to the holding in Donaldson v. Central Illinois Public Service Co., 199 Ill. 2d 63, 767 N.E.2d 314 (2002). The Committee reserved Rule 407, related to subsequent remedial measures, because Appellate Court opinions are sufficiently in conflict concerning a core issue that is now under review by the Supreme Court. Also reserved are Rules 803(1) and 803(18), because Illinois common law does not recognize either a present sense impression or a learned treatise hearsay exception.

(2) Statute Validity: The Committee believes it avoided affecting the validity of existing statutes promulgated by the Illinois legislature. There is a possible conflict between Rule 609(d) and section 5–150(1)(c) of the Juvenile Court Act (705 ILCS 405/5–150(1)(c)) with respect to the use of juvenile adjudications for impeachment purposes. That possible conflict, however, is not the result of promulgation of Rule 609(d) because that rule simply codifies the Illinois Supreme Court’s adoption of the 1971 draft of Fed. R. Evid. 609 in People v. Montgomery, 47 Ill.2d 510, 268 N.E.2d 695 (1971). As noted in the Comment to Rule 609(d), the present codification is not intended to resolve the issue concerning the effect of the statute. Moreover, the Illinois Rules of Evidence permit the Illinois legislature to act in the future with respect to the law of evidence as long as the particular legislative enactment is not in conflict with an Illinois Supreme Court rule or an Illinois Supreme Court decision. See Ill. R. Evid. 101.

(3) Modernization: Where there was no conflict with statutes or recent Illinois Supreme Court or Illinois Appellate Court decisions, and where it was determined to be beneficial and uniformly or almost uniformly accepted elsewhere, the Committee incorporated into the Illinois Rules of Evidence uncontroversial developments with respect to the law of evidence as reflected in the Federal Rules of Evidence and the 44 surveyed jurisdictions. The 14 instances of modernization of note are as follows:

(1) Rule 106. Remainder of or Related Writings or Recorded Statements.

Rule 106 permits the admission contemporaneously of any other part of a writing or recording or any other writing or recording which “ought in fairness” be considered at the same time. Prior Illinois law appears to have limited the concept of completeness to other parts of the same writing or recording or an addendum thereto. The “ought in fairness” requirement allows admissibility of statements made under separate circumstances.

(2) Rule 406. Habit; Routine Practice.

Rule 406 confirms the clear direction of prior Illinois law that evidence of the habit of a person or of the routine practice of an organization, whether corroborated or not and regardless of the presence of eyewitnesses, is relevant to prove that the conduct of the person or organization on a particular occasion was in conformity with the habit or routine practice.

(3) Rule 408. Compromise and Offers to Compromise.

Prior Illinois law did not preclude admissibility of statements made in compromise negotiations unless stated hypothetically. Because they were considered a trap for the unwary, Rule 408 makes such statements inadmissible without requiring the presence of qualifying language.

(4) Rule 613(a). Examining Witness Concerning Prior Statement.

Rule 613(a) provides that a prior inconsistent statement need not be shown to a witness prior to cross-examination thereon. Illinois Central Railroad v. Wade, 206 Ill. 523, 69 N.E. 565 (1903), was to the contrary.

(5) Rule 801(d). Statements Which Are Not Hearsay.

Rule 801(d)(1)(A) codifies an Illinois statute (725 ILCS 5/115–10.1) that applies only in criminal cases. It makes admissible as “not hearsay” (rather than as a hearsay exception) a prior inconsistent statement of a declarant who testifies at a trial or a hearing and is subject to cross-examination, when the prior inconsistent statement was given under oath at a trial, hearing, or other proceeding, or in a deposition, or under other specified circumstances. The rule does not apply in civil cases. Rule 801(d)(1)(B) also codifies an Illinois statute (725 ILCS 5/115–12). It makes admissible as “not hearsay” a declarant’s prior statement of identification of a person made after perceiving that person, when the declarant testifies at a trial or hearing in a criminal case and is subject to cross-examination concerning the statement. Rule 801(d)(2) provides substantive admissibility, as “not hearsay,” for admissions of a party-opponent.

(6) Rule 801(d)(2)(D). Statement by a Party’s Agent or Servant.

Rule 801(d)(2)(D) confirms the clear direction of prior Illinois law that a statement by a party’s agent or servant concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or employment, made during the existence of the relationship, constitutes an admission of a party-opponent.

(7) Rule 803(13). Family Records.

The requirement that the declarant be unavailable and that the statement be made before the controversy or a motive to misrepresent arose, Sugrue v. Crilley, 329 Ill. 458, 160 N.E. 847 (1928), have been eliminated.

(8) Rule 803(14), (15), (19), (20) and (23).

With respect to records of or statements in documents affecting an interest in property, reputation concerning personal or family history, and concerning boundaries or general history, and judgments as to personal, family or general history or boundaries, Illinois law in each area was sparse or nonexistent.

(9) Rules 803(16) and 901(b)(8). Statements in Ancient Documents.

The 30-year limitation to real property, Reuter v. Stuckart, 181 Ill. 529, 54 N.E. 1014 (1899), is relaxed in favor of 20 years without subject matter restriction.

(10) Rule 804(b)(3). Statement Against Interest.

Rule 804(b)(3) makes applicable to the prosecution as well as the defense the requirement that in a criminal case a statement tending to expose the declarant to criminal liability is not admissible as a hearsay exception unless corroborating circumstances clearly indicate the trustworthiness of the statement.

(11) Rule 806. Attacking and Supporting Credibility of Declarant.

Rule 806 dispenses with the requirement of an opportunity to deny or explain an inconsistent statement or conduct of an out-of-court declarant under all circumstances when a hearsay statement is involved. Whether Illinois law had already dispensed with the requirement with respect to a deposition was unclear.

(12) Rule 902(11). Certified Records of Regularly Conducted Activity.

Self-authentication of business records is provided by Rule 902(11), following the model of Fed. R. Evid. 902(11) and 902(12) and 18 U.S.C. 3505.

(13) Rule 1004. Admissibility of Other Evidence of Contents.

Rule 1004 does not recognize degrees of secondary evidence previously recognized in Illinois. Illinois Land & Loan Co. v. Bonner, 75 Ill. 315 (1874). In addition, it is no longer necessary to show that reasonable efforts were employed beyond available judicial process or procedure to obtain an original possessed by a third party. Prussing v. Jackson, 208 Ill. 85, 69 N.E. 771 (1904).

(14) Rule 1007. Testimony or Written Admission of Party.

The Rule 1007 provision that testimony or a written admission may be employed to prove the contents of a document appears never before to have been the law in Illinois. Bryan v. Smith, 3 Ill. 47 (1839).

(4) Recommendations: The Committee recommended to the Illinois Supreme Court a limited number of changes to Illinois evidence law (1) where the particularized evidentiary principle was neither addressed by statute nor specifically addressed in a comprehensive manner within recent history by the Illinois Supreme Court, and (2) where prior Illinois law simply did not properly reflect evidentiary policy considerations or raised practical application problems when considered in light of modern developments and evidence rules adopted elsewhere with respect to the identical issue. The Committee identified, and the Illinois Supreme Court approved, recommendations in only two areas:

(a) Opinion testimony is added to reputation testimony as a method of proof in Rule 405, when character evidence is admissible, and in Rule 608 with respect to character for truthfulness:

Rule 405.


(a) Reputation or Opinion. In all cases in which evidence of character or a trait of character of a person is admissible, proof may be made by testimony as to reputation, or by testimony in the form of an opinion.

(b) Specific Instances of Conduct.

(1) In cases in which character or a trait of character of a person is an essential element of a charge, claim, or defense, proof may also be made of specific instances of that person’s conduct; and

(2) In criminal homicide or battery cases when the accused raises the theory of self-defense and there is conflicting evidence as to whether the alleged victim was the aggressor, proof may also be made of specific instances of the alleged victim’s prior violent conduct.

Rule 608.


The credibility of a witness may be attacked or supported by evidence in the form of opinion or reputation, but subject to these limitations: (1) the evidence may refer only to character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, and (2) evidence of truthful character is admissible only after the character of the witness for truthfulness has been attacked by opinion or reputation evidence or otherwise.

(b) Rule 803(3) eliminates the requirements currently existing in Illinois law, that do not exist in any other jurisdiction, with respect to statements of then existing mental, emotional, or physical condition, that the statement be made by a declarant found unavailable to testify, and that the trial court find that there is a “reasonable probability” that the statement is truthful:

RULE 803.


The following are not excluded by the hearsay rule, even though the declarant is available as a witness:

(3) Then Existing Mental, Emotional, or Physical Condition. A statement of the declarant's then existing state of mind, emotion, sensation, or physical condition (such as intent, plan, motive, design, mental feeling, pain, and bodily health), but not including:

(A) a statement of memory or belief to prove the fact remembered or believed unless it relates to the execution, revocation, identification, or terms of declarant's will; or

(B) a statement of declarant’s then existing state of mind, emotion, sensation, or physical condition to prove the state of mind, emotion, sensation, or physical condition of another declarant at that time or at any other time when such state of the other declarant is an issue in the action.

The initial reference in Illinois to “unavailability” and “reasonable probability” occurred in People v. Reddock, 13 Ill. App. 3d 296, 300 N.E.2d 31 (1973), adopting the position taken by the North Carolina Supreme Court in State v. Vestal, 278 N.C. 561, 180 S.E.2d 755 (1971), when dealing with statements of intent by a declarant to prove conduct by the declarant consistent with that intent. Subsequent cases simply incorporated the two qualifications without analysis, evaluation, critique, or discussion. No reference has been made to the fact that the two requirements were initially adopted solely to deal with the Mutual Life Ins. v. Hillmon, 145 U.S. 285 (1892), issue as to whether a statement of an out of court declarant expressing her intent to perform a future act was admissible as evidence to prove the doing of the intended act. Interestingly, the North Carolina version of Rule 803(3) in the North Carolina Rules of Evidence is in substance the same as Rule 803(3), i.e., neither a requirement of “unavailability” nor “reasonable probability” is included.

Rule 803(3) permits admissibility of declarations of intent to do an act as evidence to establish intent and as evidence to prove the doing of the intended act regardless of the availability of the declarant and without the court finding a reasonable probability that the statement is truthful. Consistent with prior Illinois law, Rule 803(3)(B) provides that the hearsay exception for admissibility of a statement of intent as tending to prove the doing of the act intended applies only to the statements of intent by a declarant to prove her future conduct, not the future conduct of another person.

(5) Structural Change: A hearsay exception in Illinois with respect to both business and public records is recognized in civil cases by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 236, excluding police accident reports, and in criminal cases by section 115 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (725 ILCS 5/115), excluding medical records and police investigative records. The Illinois Rules of Evidence in Rule 803(6), records of regularly conducted activity (i.e., business records), and in Rule 803(8), public records and reports, while retaining the exclusions described above, removes the difference between civil and criminal business and public records in favor of the traditional and otherwise uniformly accepted division between business records, Rule 803(6), and public records and reports, Rule 803(8), both applicable in civil and criminal cases.

RULE 803(6)-(10).


The following are not excluded by the hearsay rule, even though the declarant is available as a witness:

* * *

(6) Records of regularly conducted activity. A memorandum, report, record, or data compilation, in any form, of acts, events, conditions, opinions, or diagnoses, made at or near the time by, or from information transmitted by, a person with knowledge, if kept in the course of a regularly conducted business activity, and if it was the regular practice of that business activity to make the memorandum, report, record or data compilation, all as shown by the testimony of the custodian or other qualified witness, or by certification that complies with Rule 902(11), unless the source of information or the method or circumstances of preparation indicate lack of trustworthiness, but not including in criminal cases medical records. The term "business" as used in this paragraph includes business, institution, association, profession, occupation, and calling of every kind, whether or not conducted for profit.

(7) Absence of Entry in Records Kept in Accordance With the Provisions of Paragraph (6). Evidence that a matter is not included in the memoranda reports, records, or data compilations, in any form, kept in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (6), to prove the nonoccurrence or nonexistence of the matter, if the matter was of a kind of which a memorandum, report, record, or data compilation was regularly made and preserved, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.

(8) Public records and reports. Records, reports, statements, or data compilations, in any form, of public offices or agencies, setting forth (A) the activities of the office or agency, or (B) matters observed pursuant to duty imposed by law as to which matters there was a duty to report, excluding, however, police accident reports and in criminal cases medical records and matters observed by police officers and other law enforcement personnel, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.

(9) Records of Vital Statistics. Facts contained in records or data compilations, in any form, of births, fetal deaths, deaths, or marriages, if the report thereof was made to a public office pursuant to requirements of law.

(10) Absence of Public Record or Entry. To prove the absence of a record, report, statement, or data compilation, in any form, or the nonoccurrence or nonexistence of a matter of which a record, report, statement, or data compilation, in any form, was regularly made and preserved by a public office or agency, evidence in the form of a certification in accordance with Rule 902, or testimony, that diligent search failed to disclose the record, report, statement, or data compilation, or entry.

(6) Referenced Statutes: Numerous existing statutes, the validity of which are not affected by promulgation of the Illinois Rules of Evidence, Ill. R. Evid. 101, relate in one form or another to the law of evidence. The Committee felt it was inappropriate, unnecessary and unwise to refer specifically to the abundance of statutory authority in an Appendix or otherwise. Reference is, however, made in the body of the text of the Illinois Rules of Evidence to certain statutes by citation or verbatim incorporation. Such references and the reasons therefor are as follows:

(1) Rule 404(a)(2): Character testimony of the alleged victim offered by the accused is specifically made subject to the limitations on character evidence contained in the rape shield statute, 725 ILCS 5/115–7.

(2) Rule 404(b): The bar to evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts to prove character to show conformity is made subject to the provisions of 725 ILCS 5/115–7.3, dealing with enumerated sex-related offenses, along with 725 ILCS 5/115–7.4 and 725 ILCS 5/115–20, dealing with domestic violence and other enumerated offenses, all of which allow admissibility of other crimes, wrongs, or acts under certain circumstances.

(3) Rule 409: The parallel protection afforded by 735 ILCS 5/8–1901 with respect to payment of medical or similar expenses is specifically referenced in Rule 409 to preclude any possibility of conflict.

(4) Rule 611(c): 735 ILCS 5/2–1102 provides a definition of adverse party or agent with respect to hostile witnesses as to whom interrogation may be by leading questions.

(5) Rule 801(d)(1): The provisions of 725 ILCS 5/115–10.1, dealing with prior inconsistent statements in a criminal case, are incorporated nearly verbatim in Rule 801(d)(1)(A) in the interests of completeness and convenience. Similar treatment is given to prior statements of identification, 725 ILCS 5/115–12, in Rule 801(d)(1)(B).

(6) Rule 803(4)(B): 725 ILCS 5/115–13, dealing with statements by the victim to medical personnel in sexual abuse prosecutions, is included verbatim in recognition that the statute admits statements to examining physicians while the generally applicable provisions of Rule 803(4)(A) do not.

(7) Redundancy: Where redundancy exists between a rule contained in the Illinois Rules of Evidence and another Illinois Supreme Court rule, reference should be made solely to the appropriate Illinois rule of evidence.

Respectfully Submitted,

Honorable Donald C. Hudson, Chair

Honorable Warren D. Wolfson (retired), Vice-Chair

Professor Ralph Ruebner, Reporter

Professor Michael H. Graham, Advisor

Honorable Robert L. Carter

Honorable Tom Cross, Illinois State Representative

Honorable John J. Cullerton, President of the Illinois State Senate

Honorable Gino L. DiVito (retired)

Honorable Nathaniel R. Howse, Jr.

Honorable Heidi Ladd

Eileen Letts, Esquire

Shannon M. McNulty, Esquire

Robert Neirynck, Esquire

Honorable Dennis J. Porter

Michael Scodro, Solicitor General

Todd Smith, Esquire

Brian K. Trentman, Esquire

Michael J. Warner, Esquire

Honorable Arthur J. Wilhelmi, Illinois State Senator


Illinois Rules of Evidence

Article Rule # Rule Title
I Rule 101 Scope
I Rule 102 Purpose and Construction
I Rule 103 Rulings on Evidence
I Rule 104 Preliminary Questions
I Rule 105 Limited Admissibility
I Rule 106 Remainder of or Related Writings or Recorded Statements
II Rule 201 Judicial Notice of Adjudicative Facts
III Rule 301 Presumptions in General in Civil Actions and Proceedings
IV Rule 401 Definition of "Relevant Evidence"
IV Rule 402 Relevant Evidence Generally Admissible; Irrelevant Evidence Inadmissible
IV Rule 403 Exclusion of Relevant Evidence on Grounds of Prejudice, Confusion, or Waste of Time
IV Rule 404 Character Evidence Not Admissible to Prove Conduct; Exceptions; Other Crimes
IV Rule 405 Methods of Proving Character
IV Rule 406 Habit; Routine Practice
IV Rule 407 Reserved
IV Rule 408 Compromise and Offers to Compromise
IV Rule 409 Payment of Medical and Similar Expenses
IV Rule 410 Inadmissibility of Pleas, Plea Discussions, and Related Statements
IV Rule 411 Liability Insurance
IV Rule 412 Prior Sexual Activity or Reputation as Evidence
IV Rule 413 Evidence of Other Offenses in Criminal Cases
V Rule 501 General Rule
V Rule 502 Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product; Limitations on Waiver
VI Rule 601 General Rule of Competency
VI Rule 602 Lack of Personal Knowledge
VI Rule 603 Oath or Affirmation
VI Rule 604 Interpreters
VI Rule 605 Competency of Judge as Witness
VI Rule 606 Competency of Juror as Witness
VI Rule 607 Who May Impeach
VI Rule 608 Evidence of Character of Witness for Truthfulness or Untruthfulness
VI Rule 609 Impeachment by Evidence of Conviction of Crime
VI Rule 610 Religious Beliefs or Opinions
VI Rule 611 Mode and Order of Interrogation and Presentation
VI Rule 612 Writing Used to Refresh Memory
VI Rule 613 Prior Statements of Witnesses
VI Rule 614 Calling and Interrogation of Witnesses by Court
VI Rule 615 Exclusion of Witnesses
VII Rule 701 Opinion Testimony by Lay Witnesses
VII Rule 702 Testimony by Experts
VII Rule 703 Bases of Opinion Testimony by Experts
VII Rule 704 Opinion on Ultimate Issue
VII Rule 705 Disclosure of Facts or Data Underlying Expert Opinion
VIII Rule 801 Definitions
VIII Rule 802 Hearsay Rule
VIII Rule 803 Hearsay Exceptions; Availability of Declarant Immaterial
VIII Rule 804 Hearsay Exceptions; Declarant Unavailable
VIII Rule 805 Hearsay Within Hearsay
VIII Rule 806 Attacking and Supporting Credibility of Declarant
IX Rule 901 Requirement of Authentication or Identification
IX Rule 902 Self-Authentication
IX Rule 903 Subscribing Witness' Testimony Unnecessary
X Rule 1001 Definitions
X Rule 1002 Requirement of Original
X Rule 1003 Admiissibility of Duplicates
X Rule 1004 Admissibility of Other Evidence of Contents
X Rule 1005 Public Records
X Rule 1006 Summaries
X Rule 1007 Testimony or Written Admission of Party
X Rule 1008 Functions of Court and Jury
XI Rule 1101 Applicability of Rules
XI Rule 1102 Title