Creating Effective Sworn Statements
A sworn statement is a document that details facts relevant to a court or legal proceeding and can be used in court cases or other situations where sworn testimony is required. Creating a sworn statement can be difficult, particularly if you have never done one before.
If you are creating a sworn statement document for a legal proceeding, you may want more information on how to make it effective. Below, we give you tips on structuring your statement, writing a sworn statement effectively, and avoiding common mistakes. Take a look now to learn more.
Understanding Sworn Statements
If you’ve looked online at sworn statements and affidavit example documents, you will likely see how much they have in common. In fact, many people in the US actually call sworn statements affidavits. However, the two do have their differences.
Sworn statements can be used in a number of different settings. They may be used as evidence in court proceedings, as part of witness testimony, or in other legal and administrative matters.
A sworn statement does not need to be acknowledged by a notary public as an affidavit does, but it does need to include an endorsement signed by the declarant, which confirms that the statements made were truthful under penalty of perjury. Some federal courts and states allow sworn statements rather than affidavits, depending on the jurisdiction.
Other names that worn statements go by include ‘sworn declaration’ and ‘statement under penalty of perjury.’ It may be taken orally but is often written. It is also given under oath and filed with the clerk of a court.
Sworn statements may be used in court proceedings to save time and for witnesses who want to provide evidence but cannot attend court.
Structuring a Sworn Statement
There are a few items that must be included within your sworn statement. These are as follows.
- Personal details, including the name, age, occupation, and address of the declarant
- An in-depth and detailed account of the incident or event being recited
- An endorsement which states that the information included in the statement is true and subject to a penalty of perjury
- The declarant’s signature
- The date the sworn statement was created
Tips for Writing an Effective Sworn Statement
Sometimes, when you’re asked to write a sworn statement, you will be given an example or structure to follow. At other times, you might not. For this reason, we have collated our top tips for writing effective sworn statements below.
- Make sure you understand the purpose: Before beginning your sworn statement, you need to understand why you’re writing it in the first place. If you’re unsure, ask someone or re-read our ‘Understanding Sworn Statements’ section.
- Be clear and concise: This is a must. Don’t try to use flowery language or descriptions; just write in plain language and avoid using any terms, like business jargon, technical terms, or complex words, that may be difficult to understand or need further explanation.
- Be logical: For the most part, a sworn statement details a chain of events, so be logical in how you present this information. Make sure it is coherent, and try to make it chronological. You could use numbers or headings to ensure the reader can follow.
- Be truthful: Sworn statements are given under penalty of perjury, so your actions can have serious legal consequences if you aren’t truthful. Be accurate in everything you include; if you don’t know something, it is okay to say so.
- Be specific: Besides being truthful, you must also be highly specific. This means adding names, dates, locations, and any other information that will support your statement and ensure it is as detailed as possible.
- Avoid adding opinions: Though it can be tempting, you shouldn’t add any opinions or speculation. Add what you know to be the truth and avoid other statements.
- Review and edit: Make sure to read over the statement and look for spelling errors that could be confusing. Consider having someone else read over it, too.
- Follow any formatting guidelines: Sometimes, you may be required to submit a sworn statement using specific fonts, font sizes, margins, and more. Make sure you follow these guidelines if applicable.
- Seek legal guidance: If you’re unsure of any aspect of writing your sworn statement, consider seeking legal guidance. They will be able to offer advice and ensure you’re including everything necessary.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Sworn Statement
If you follow the guidelines and keep our tips in mind, you’re likely to create an acceptable sworn statement. However, there are some mistakes that people often make that you should be aware of.
- Exaggeration or understatement: Getting the balance right between these two can be difficult. Just stick to the truth and keep any emotions out of it to avoid over or understatements.
- Incomplete information: Try to include all crucial information. If you don’t know something, then ensure that it is recorded. Incomplete information can weaken your statement.
- Inconsistencies: Your statement must be consistent to avoid a challenge to your credibility. Having someone else read over it may help to prevent this.
Preparing a sworn statement can be nerve-wracking, but by following our few tips, you will be able to create an effective statement. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, remember that you can seek legal guidance for advice on creating an effective sworn statement.