What is an Affidavit?
You know on TV when you are watching a crime drama and the characters are in the courtroom, and the witness is put under oath so they can tell their story to the jury and the judge? Well, having a witness go to court and tell their story under oath is one way to make sure that the facts get disclosed in a legal proceeding. But it’s not the only way.
In Canada, we don’t use jury trials a lot. They are expensive, and aren’t always the best way to come to an unbiased result. Instead, much of the work that is done in courtrooms is done by way of desk order, or other paper-based applications. This means you present your information to the court, but in a written down format, instead of in person.
You still need to provide your evidence under oath, which is why these documents are sworn. The word “affidavit” is medieval Latin for “he has sworn”.
Because they are sworn, a judge, magistrate or registrar can rely on the information in them.
These documents that provide evidence to court are called affidavits.
How do I make an Affidavit?
Usually, your lawyer will make an affidavit for you.
Because they are formal documents, for use in a court, affidavits have to be written up in a certain format, and they have to meet certain criteria in terms of their language and structure.
For example, you use an affidavit to present facts to the court, not opinions. The judge, magistrate or registrar who reviews these documents takes the facts, and makes their own determination about what has happened from the recitation of those facts.
Your lawyer can help you make an affidavit.
Can I make my own Affidavit?
Yes, but you must make sure that it meets with the proper formalities. If you are self-represented, you will likely make your own Affidavit.
How do I sign an Affidavit?
You don’t “sign” an affidavit – this is a formal legal document, so you execute it under oath.
This is an important distinction – you are not simply saying that the information in the affidavit is true; you are stating that information under oath. If you are lying, then you might be brought up on charges of perjury (which could mean up to 14 years in jail); and there are serious moral repercussions for lying under oath.
If you are a person of faith, you are swearing to the truth of something before your God – if you are lying, then your God will know that, and you will face whatever consequences come in your faith from lying to your God.
If you are not a person of faith, or your faith does not allow you to swear before God, then you are making your oath as an upright and honest person, and if you are lying, then your word means nothing, and you are publicly recognized as an untrustworthy person.
If you need to swear an Affidavit, bring it, and any exhibits (schedules) to the office, and we would be happy to take your signatures on it.
Is an Affidavit the same thing as a Statutory Declaration?
No. They are both documents made under oath, or as if they were made under oath, but they are used for different purposes.
An Affidavit is used in court, and only in court.
A Statutory Declaration is used outside of court – for example, for governmental purposes, or for land title purposes.
Tags: affidavit, evidence, notarization