An affidavit is a sworn statement made by a witness that recounts facts and swears to the truth of the statement. Though frequently used in trials, affidavits may also be required for some other purposes, such as income verification or real estate transactions. Filing an affidavit incorrectly can slow down normal proceedings, and, in many cases, may cause the statement to be deemed inadmissible. It is important to carefully follow all instructions when filing an affidavit to make sure that all legal guidelines are in order.
The first step in filing an affidavit is making sure of the facts in a statement. If submitting a sworn statement on income for benefits or insurance, be sure to check over tax returns, bank statements, and any other pertinent financial information to ensure that all data in the statement is correct. For those making a witness statement, try to recall all factual data, including the time of day, date, place, and any criminal actions witnessed. It is important to get the facts straight because the statement is made under an oath to tell the truth; if a person is negligent or found to have lied in an affidavit, he or she may be charged with perjury or related crimes.
Some regions have specific forms required for filing an affidavit. To determine if a certain form should be used, contact the local court clerk and explain the circumstances. He or she may be able to provide necessary forms as well as important advice on filing an affidavit correctly. If the witness is helping a legal team build a case for a trial, the lawyers involved can also help with any forms and filing questions.
There are several features that can help organize the writing and filing of an affidavit. Almost all affidavits require an opening or closing statement that affirms that the person signing the document believes the statements are factual and true to the best of his or her ability. Next, the witness lists the facts, usually in numbered paragraphs. It may be wise to hire a lawyer to help with the wording of an affidavit, as complicated statements leave the door open to a witness being accused of lying or misrepresentation. A lawyer or legal professional can help avoid some of the pitfalls that could be used against a witness.
Another step when filing an affidavit is to obtain the signature of a notary or court official. Generally, a witness will have to repeat his or her statement that the affidavit is a factual account, then sign the statement in the presence of an official. The official will also sign the document, asserting that the witness has proved his or her identity and signed the statement in person. Without the signature of an acceptable official, statements can be thrown out.