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Difference Between Affidavit & Witness Statement

Updated April 04, 2017

In both civil and criminal law cases, affidavits and witness statements may be introduced as evidence in order to prove the case or offer a defence. An affidavit includes an extensive range of subjects and is typically given greater weight when considered in legal matters, while a witness statement is usually limited in scope and is less persuasive in legal cases.

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Affidavits Are Sworn Documents

An affidavit contains statements which are sworn to, under oath of perjury, as truthful statements by the individual who is executing the document. Consequently, when one executes an affidavit, one is attesting that one is not lying or presenting misleading information. As a result, affidavits are deemed truthful statements.

Affidavits Are Notarised

The person who signs the document is called the "affiant." In addition, the affiant signs in the presence of a notary public, so the affiant's signature has an added element of truthfulness. As a result, affidavits are typically given significant weight when used in court or in any legal proceeding.

Witness Statements Provide Basic Information

In contrast to affidavits, witness statements are not notarised and provide basic information. A witness statement contains information pertaining to what an individual has observed during a particular event. For example, in a car accident, a car accident witness's statement would provide his or her observations of the accident, such as how the accident occurred, if there appeared to be any intervening acts, whether there were any weather conditions or other conditions which caused the accident or any other observations the witness noticed. This information is recorded in the witness statement.

Witness Statements Are Not Notarised

Unlike an affidavit, a witness statement is not notarised. Rather, a witness statement is simply reviewed and then signed by the witness. While a witness statement may be utilised in legal proceedings, the witness statement is sometimes used as a tool to refresh a witness's memory as opposed to serving as strong evidence.

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About the Author

J.S. Nogara began writing in 2000, publishing in legal texts, newspapers, newsletters and on various websites. Her credits include updating "New York Practice Guides: Negligence." She is a licensed attorney admitted to the New York State courts and the Federal Court, Southern District in New York. She has a B.S. from the University of Connecticut, a J.D. and an LL.M. degree.

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