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Affiant: Definition, Role & Example

Instructor: Jessica Mercado

I completed my BA in Criminal Justice in 2015. Currently working on my MS in Homeland Security Management.

Maybe on TV you've seen someone write and sign a statement under oath. If you have, that document you saw was an affidavit and the person signing it was an affiant. This lesson explains what each of these mean and their purpose in the criminal justice world.

Being a Witness

Sarah witnessed someone robbing a local grocery store. Shes rushed to the police station to report what she saw to the police. In order for her statement to be used, she has to write down everything that occurred, and then sign the document.

Sarah just became an affiant and her signed statement is now an affidavit. What does this mean in the criminal justice world?

What is the Role of the Affiant?

An affiant is someone who voluntary offers and signs a statement of known facts, under oath, and agrees to have it written down. This written statement becomes known as an affidavit. An affidavit is a written document that covers evidence and facts, known by the affiant, that will be presented in a case.

The purpose of the affiant is to create an affidavit, based on their own personal knowledge. Once they sign their written statement, it becomes a legal document. There are only two instances when an affidavit can be used in trial or court hearing:

  1. there is no other information
  2. the affiant is unavailable to appear in court

In a court hearing, for example, an affidavit may be used to reinforce the truthfulness of evidence or statements presented in the courtroom.

If the witness who signed the affidavit is present, their affidavit is no longer admissible in court. Affidavits are also used for temporary restraining orders, and are considered to hold more weight then just beliefs or information.

When an Affiant is Needed

This short list are examples of when an affiant is required in order to obtain an affidavit.

  • Notification to third parties of a death.

This could be a creditor, school, or workplace. For example, Billy passed away over Spring Break. His mother creates an affidavit, stating that her son passed over Spring break in a car accident. The affidavit is then presented to his college in order to remove him from the roster and remove his school debt.

  • Verification of residency.

Sally just moved to a new house, but had not informed her bank of her new address. The bank creates an affidavit and sends it to her work in order to verify if her address is new or has stayed the same.

  • Name change confirmation.

This could be in case of marriage or divorce. Barbara recently filed for divorce. Once the proceedings have been completed, Barbara files for a name change. Once everything is verified, Barbara receives an affidavit from the Social Security office stating that her name has been legally been changed.

  • Identity confirmation.

Affidavits can be used for cases of stolen identity. For example, Jimmy receives an affidavit in the mail from the social security office. It informs him that his identity has been stolen.

  • Confirmation of property ownership.

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