WHAT IS AN AFFIDAVIT?
First of all, let us define the concept of the 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.
In addition, a taker of oaths witnesses the authenticity of the affiant’s signature on the statement. A commissioner of oaths or a Notary Public can perform this witnessing. In like manner, an affidavit is a type of verified statement or showing. In other words, it contains a verification, meaning it is under oath or penalty of perjury, and serves as evidence of its truthness, and is a requirement for court proceedings.
IN OTHER WORDS...
As an illustration, to have a better idea of this type of documents, think about affidavits as a sort of written court testimony. In a court of law, you place your hand on a Bible and swear (or affirm). All this to guarantee that you are telling the truth and nothing but the truth. While on an affidavit, you do the same but in writing. You are under oath (or you make an affirmation), but you are on paper.
Additionally, as a general rule of evidence, a witness (referred to as the “deponent” in an affidavit) can only give evidence of matters within what is known as first-hand knowledge. First-hand knowledge means that a person can only give evidence of what was seen, heard, smelled, felt, or tasted. In the larger sense, a person can naturally provide evidence of actions taken and what that person was thinking at that specific time (the intention to give a punctual example).
On the other hand, if a person gives evidence concerning what another person has said about the incident, this is known as “hearsay” evidence. Hearsay evidence is subject to detailed rules. Those rules will determine whether or not it is admissible under a specific circumstance.
BEFORE SIGNING AN AFFIDAVIT
Finally, if you are signing an affidavit, make sure you read what you are attesting to in its entirety. If you can agree to all of the statements in the document, feel free to sign. You have to sign in front of a notary public or similar authority to make the affidavit fully legal.
Nevertheless, you have the right to refuse to sign and search for legal counseling before signing. If you have doubts or do not understand all or any part of the document, do not hesitate to exercise this right.
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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