How to Prepare a Sworn Statement

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If you represent yourself in a court proceeding, you might want to get a sworn statement. Do you need a notary public for this? Learn how to prepare a sworn statement.

Why Do You Need a Sworn Statement?

Have you seen how all witnesses in court are sworn in? They must promise that everything they say is the “truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” If they lie, they could be charged with perjury.

Each witness makes a sworn statement in court. It is deemed to be credible and reliable. The court reporter makes an official public record of what is said. So, people can check the veracity of the witness’ statements.

Judges and attorneys can cross-examine the witness. They can go back to the public record to cross-reference the facts. The witness might condemn himself with his own words in court.

The jury can watch the non-verbal signs to assess whether the witness is telling the truth or not. The court process has many advantages.

Is a Sworn Statement Evidence?

Unfortunately, not every witness can physically appear in court. He might have an illness, disability, be in a foreign country or in prison. The sworn statement is the next best thing. The witness can provide evidence that is admissible in court.

The individual must swear to an event or action that he witnessed first-hand. The witness making the statement is a “declarant.” He declares certain facts to be true.

A sworn statement can be used for preliminary hearings. It is most useful for first-hand accounts that depend on memory. The declarant must file a separate document attesting to the veracity of the sworn statement.

Each state and jurisdiction might treat sworn statements differently. Some experts argue that a sworn statement can be verbal and simply means it was taken under oath – “I swear such and such to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

If you are making a documentary, then a sworn statement can be particularly useful. You can get information that was previously secret and stamp it with an air of authenticity. Most courts will prefer that you take an affidavit.

How is an Affidavit Different?

An affidavit requires a notary public or court clerk to authenticate it by witnessing, signing and sealing the legal document. You are required to pay a notary public. The witness giving the affidavit is the “affiant.”

Certain legal jurisdictions permit sworn statements. Of course, the difficulty is that there is no cross-examination. Therefore, it might not be as credible as actual court testimony.

Some courts might only permit sworn statements for certain cases. If both parties agree to allow sworn statements, then they might be admissible as evidence.