Originally Posted by speedrrracer
...If a "report" is just some policeman inputting his hunches / suspicions into a database so the next detective on the case can come up to speed on the previous detective's mindset, then I would think they're not worth much in a court, but if they're the same as sworn testimony they would have a lot more weight.
First, a report is part of written documentation of who, what, when, where, and how. The purposes of writing reports are to (1) create a permanent record of what happened, what was seen and heard, what was done, etc., and all other material facts and details instead of leaving such to the vagaries of memory; and (2) make the information available and useful to others. A properly written report should clearly and complete document, without editorial comment, facts. It could also contain impressions, opinions and conclusions properly identified as such.
A police report will rarely be admissible as evidence in court. The officers involved will need to personally testify. When an officer is testifying, a report he wrote could be used to refresh his recollection (or to impugn his testimony). A report might also be used to show state of mind.
But a police report is hearsay and may only be used under the various exceptions to the general rule that hearsay is not admissible.