An affidavit is a type of legal document that contains a written sworn statement. Basically, an individual may be asked to sign an affidavit when they need to verify or certify that certain facts they said are true and legally enforceable. These documents are most often used in family law and bankruptcy cases, however, they may be used in many different types of civil and criminal cases as well.
In order to draft a valid affidavit, the following elements must be present:
- The affidavit must contain a title that states what the affidavit is about and includes your name. If the affidavit is being submitted to a court for a particular matter, then the title must also state the relevant case caption.
- An affidavit must also contain what is known as a “statement of identity”. This is simply a listing of information about the person making the sworn state (i.e., who the affidavit is for). A statement of identity should include details, such as your name, address, age, occupation, and any other vital information related to the matter.
- For instance, if you are offering an alibi for the defendant in a criminal case, then you would need to incorporate facts about your relationship to the defendant and possibly, some other details. Alternatively, if you are a law enforcement officer supplying an affidavit to support the complaint, then your statement of identity would include your credentials (e.g., FBI agent, etc.).
- The most important piece of the affidavit is the declaration or oath statement itself. The oath must include your name and be written in the first person (e.g., “I, your name, certify that the following facts are true to the best of my knowledge.”).
- Remember, just because you are not holding a bible and swearing an oath in front of a judge, does not make this document any less enforceable. You can be prosecuted if you commit perjury.
- There should also be a section that states all of the facts that a person is alleging. For example, if you are providing an alibi, then this section would contain that story.
- Finally, the affidavit will need to be signed in front of a witness and notarized. A notary may qualify as a witness, depending on the type of affidavit and state laws. Also, if the affidavit refers to exhibit documents, those must be notarized and signed as well.
- When you are ready to get your affidavit notarized, do not forget to bring a form of identification with you, so that the notary can confirm you are who you say you are (e.g., license or passport).
It should be noted, however, that the elements in the above list provide a general overview of what is included in a standard affidavit and thus may not incorporate all of the requirements for a specific jurisdiction. Therefore, if you are drafting your own affidavit without the help of an attorney, be sure to review the guidelines set out in your jurisdiction for creating an affidavit as well as the formats that are accepted under local court rules.