Affidavit – A Formal Sworn Statement of Fact

Sample Affidavit
Learn about affidavits and how they are used in the legal field.

What is an Affidavit?

An affidavit is a formal sworn statement of fact signed by the original author. The original author is technically called the “affiant” or “deponent.” The document is to be officially witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant’s signature by a notary public.

The name affidavit originates from Medieval Latin, where it stood for he has declared upon oath. An affidavit is a type of verified statement or showing, or in other words, an affidavit contains a verification, meaning it is under oath or penalty of perjury and is required for court proceedings.

Use of Affidavits

Following are examples of how affidavits can be used:

  • An affidavit can be used to gather evidence from witnesses or participants who may not be available to testify in person before the court. Also, those who may otherwise fear their safety if their true identities are revealed in court. In this situation, the person writes down their testimony, and a notary public authorizes and confirms the authenticity of the affidavit.
  • An affidavit can be used to obtain a declaration on a legal document, such as an application for voter registration, that the information provided by the applicant is truthful to the best of the applicant’s knowledge. If, after signing, the information is found to be deliberately untrue with the intent to deceive, the applicant may face perjury charges.

How is it written?

Affidavits may be written in the first or third person, depending on who drafted the document. If in the first person, the document’s parts are:

  • A commencement that identifies the affiant
  • The individual averments, almost always numbered as mandated by law, each one making a separate claim
  • A statement of truth generally stating that everything is true, under penalty of perjury, fine, or imprisonment
  • An attestation clause, usually a jurat, in the end, certifies the affiant made an oath and the date.
  • An affidavit notarized or authenticated includes a caption with a venue and title about judicial proceedings. In some cases, an introductory clause called a preamble, is added, attesting that the affiant personally appeared before the authenticating authority.

What do Private Investigators Need to Know?

Private investigators should be familiar with affidavits and their related terminology to assist their clients with investigations related to such documents.

Learn More

See our Glossary of Investigation Terms if you’d like to learn about other terms and definitions.


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