What is an Affidavit?

Affidavits are legal documents that contain a true written and signed statement that may be used as evidence in court or tribunal.

What Does Affidavit Mean?

Affidavit definition: affidavits are similar to statutory declarations and witness statements, in that they contain written and signed statements that are used for evidence. Their formats, uses, and requirements differ, however.

Affidavits are statements of facts made under oath.

“Under oath” refers to making a commitment to the fact that the information in your statement is true, based on personal knowledge or belief, to be used in court or by another official institution (such as a bank).”

Among other names for this document are:

  • Notarized Statement
  • Statement Under Oath
  • Sworn Statement

When Should an Affidavit be Used?

The most common use of affidavits is in court proceedings. Written statements are sometimes an alternative to a witness giving oral testimony in court.

Several things can be proved by an affidavit. Often, the purpose is to tell the court a person’s story. The affidavit gives the person’s account of events in detail, which is then filed with the court.

An affidavit of service is commonly used to prove that legal paperwork has been served to others.

A person who gives false evidence in an affidavit may be charged with perjury if they do so intentionally since making an affidavit has the same truth requirements as giving oral evidence in court.  

If a person is found to have perjured themselves by providing false information in an affidavit, the courts generally impose a sentence of imprisonment unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Purpose of an Affidavit

Affidavits verify the legitimacy of a claim and are used in conjunction with witness statements or other related evidence in a dispute or a criminal matter. The person who signs the affidavit must be personally aware of the facts contained within, and he or she must swear that the affidavit is 100% true.

How to Write an Affidavit

Any person can complete an affidavit, but it must be notarized before it is considered valid. You can write or type your affidavit. Follow the steps below to process your affidavit.

1. Title the Affidavit

Affidavits must be titled first. Affidavit titles should inform the person reading them what the sworn statement is about. Your name and the topic of the affidavit should be included.

The caption of the case is also required in this section if your affidavit is being submitted to a court. This can be found on any relevant court documents. Your case number will appear with the name of the court, county, and state.

2. Create an Identity Statement

A statement of identity is the next section of your affidavit. You will enter your personal information here, such as your name, age, employment, and residence, as well as any other relevant information.

The purpose of this section is to introduce yourself and the facts you’ll be describing, which include any pertinent information to support your claims.

3. Compose a Truth Statement

Your affidavit uses this section to swear that you have told the truth to the best of your knowledge. Statements of truth are equivalent to statements made under oath in court.

You must identify yourself in your statement of truth. It must be in the first person and to the point. Just acknowledge that you promise not to lie in your affidavit.

4. Describe the Facts

This is the longest portion of the affidavit, and it must includeaccurate information. Use the following guidelines to prepare this portion:

  1. Focus on the Facts

Do not include your personal observations or opinions in your affidavit. Focus on the facts and keep them concise, clear, and objective.

When writing that you saw a suspect near a crime scene, you would simply say so and not that he or she appeared guilty.

It’s only your job to recollect the facts as best you can. It’s up to the lawyers to interpret the facts. Please provide an explanation of these facts, including names, locations, dates, and times.

  1. Outline Your Facts Clearly

Identify the facts relevant to your affidavit after creating an outline of everything you remember about the circumstance. Arrange the facts in a logical order. The best way to present facts about a situation is chronological.

This is how a statement might look:

1. The last time I saw Jane Smith was at 245 Burns Lane around 11 a.m. that morning.

2. Around 12:15 p.m., my neighbor called 911 when she discovered Mr. Brown’s body.

3. At 12:47 p.m., the police arrived and began questioning everyone immediately.

4. I saw Jane Smith and Mr. Brown had a confrontation on the street the morning before

You should write each fact in its own paragraph and refer to any supporting documents as exhibits in each paragraph. The paragraphs should be numbered to make it easy for the reader to follow.

5. Reiterate Your Assertion of Truth

Following the recounting of all the facts, you will conclude with a statement of truth. All that you need to do is summarize that what you’ve written above is true.

6. Signature and Notarization

To complete your affidavit, you must sign it and have it notarized. The majority of your affidavit can be completed before it is notarized and witnessed, but don’t sign it until you are in the presence of a licensed witness or notary.

Signing on the dotted line isn’t all you’ll be doing. You and the notary will also need to sign the following:

  • Affidavits that are altered or changed during the notarization
  • Affidavit page by page
  • Your exhibits must also be reviewed and signed by the notary if they are included in your affidavit. Make sure you bring all related documents to your meeting with the notary. If not, you’ll need to start over.

To get something notarized, you will need proof that you are who you say you are, such as a passport or driver’s license. In some states, you can have your affidavit notarized remotely, while in others, you must have it notarized in person. Before getting your affidavit notarized, check the laws in your state.

When Do You Have to Write an Affidavit?

Affidavits are often associated with television and crime dramas, but they aren’t only used to detail serious crimes. An affidavit can be requested for several mundane reasons, including the following:

  • Detail an event
  • Claim an inheritance
  • Record business
  • Verify your address
  • Marriage affidavit
  • Determine child custody
  • Confirm receiving legal documents
  • Change of name affidavit
  • Death affidavit
  • Identity theft affidavit
  • Age declaration affidavit
  • Inheritance affidavit
  • Residency affidavit
  • Divorce affidavit
  • Sworn statement affidavit

Affidavits are legal documents that provide details about a specific event. Regardless of why you are filling one out, you must be truthful. You could be sentenced to jail or fined for knowingly lying on an affidavit.

Conclusions

When settling a dispute, affidavits are important pieces of information. Affidavits can influence court decisions if used properly. In some cases, affidavits certify facts about the parties’ lives, such as their financial status. The purpose of affidavits is to provide certifiable facts in a way that can reasonably be guaranteed to be accurate. Honesty is always the best policy.

Article by Mariia Synytska

Mariia Synytska is Content Lead at Lawrina, a legal portal that projects innovation in law. Mariia manages the content on the website, takes interviews with lawyers and law experts, and looks for the interesting topics for Lawrina's audience. If you would like to be a blogger for Lawrina, you can contact Mariia for all the details via email m.synytska@lawrina.com.

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