WHAT IS AN AFFIDAVIT?
An affidavit is a document containing a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law.
Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant’s signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public or commissioner of oaths. An affidavit is a type of verified statement or showing, or in other words, it contains a verification, meaning it is under oath or penalty of perjury, and this serves as evidence to its veracity and is required for court proceedings.
To have a better idea of what is an affidavit let’s think about affidavits as a sort of written court testimony. Where, in a court of law, you’d have to place your hand on a Bible and swear that you’re telling the truth and nothing but the truth, on an affidavit, you simply do this in writing. You’re under oath (or you make an affirmation), but you’re on paper.
As a general rule of evidence, a witness (referred to as the ‘deponent’ in an affidavit) can only give evidence of matters that are within that person’s first-hand knowledge. This usually means that a person can only give evidence of what he/she has seen, heard, smelled, felt or tasted. In a wider sense, a person can naturally provide evidence as to actions he/she has taken and what that person was thinking at that time (i.e. intention).
If a person gives evidence as to what another person told him or her about the incident, this is known as ‘hearsay’ evidence. Hearsay evidence is subject to detailed rules which will determine whether or not it is admissible under a specific circumstance.
If you’re signing an affidavit, make sure you read what you’re attesting to in its entirety. If you can agree to all of the statements in the document, feel free to sign. You’ll have to sign in front of a notary public or similar authority to make the affidavit fully legal.
The information contained on this page is based on the “GOVERNOR’S REFERENCE MANUAL FOR NOTARIES” available free to the public on the flgov.com website.
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