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5 suggestions for writing a sworn statement

If something is preventing you from appearing in court, you may be able to provide a written statement instead. However, unless you have a compelling reason to make a written statement, the court will usually require you to appear in person.

Generally, if you need to make a statement as a witness in a legal proceeding, it is preferable that you do so in person. However, this is not always possible. You may be indisposed due to illness or injury. Perhaps appearing in person would expose you to unnecessary danger, or perhaps the distance you would have to travel is insurmountable.

In such circumstances, the court may allow you to give your testimony in the form of a written statement. Since the procedure is formal, your testimony should follow a specific format. Here are some tips for writing a statement that the court will accept.

1. Provide your login information

In this context, “credentials” refers to the reason you were asked to testify. In other words, you need to explain to the court why you are empowered to speak on a particular subject. For example, if you were a solar panel expert witnessing the effectiveness of a particular model, you would describe the education and training you received relating to photovoltaic technology.

Even so, you don’t necessarily have to be an expert to share your testimony. If you have witnessed an incident, all you have to do is state in your statement that you were present at the time and saw what happened. It is not necessary to mention anything about your background unless it is relevant to your testimonial.

2. Use the first person point of view

Since legal proceedings are formal, you may be tempted to describe the event in writing from a third party perspective. However, as a personal statement describing what you saw and heard, write about it from a first-person perspective using pronouns such as “I” and “I”. Remember that if you were to give this testimony in court, you would be responding to questions put to you by the lawyers and / or judges. You would be more likely to answer these questions in first person than third person. Therefore, it is appropriate to do the same in your written testimony.

3. Make your writing factual and detailed

You are giving your written testimony under penalty of perjury, just as you would if you gave oral testimony. Therefore, it is important that you stick to the facts in your testimony. Do not exaggerate or make guesses, that is, guesses about another person’s state of mind or ideas that you cannot prove in one way or another.

Writing with a fountain pen; Image by Aaron Burden via Unsplash.com.

Any detail that you can provide, no matter how unimportant to you, can matter. So describe what you saw in as much detail as possible and be factual about it. The court will likely forgive a real memory loss, but if there is reason to believe that you have intentionally left out important details, it could get you into great trouble.

4. Provide identifying information

The clerk has to do a lot of paperwork related to the various procedures that take place on a daily basis. To avoid losing your testimony in the shuffle, include the case number and case name, if known, at the top of your testimony. At the very least, you should be able to provide a date of the incident to testify about. You should also include your own name, address and telephone number so that someone from the court can contact you if necessary.

5. Add your oath

As you testify, you are taking an oath that confirms the truth and accuracy of the information you must give. This step is not skipped if you are giving written testimony. It just means that you have to write and sign your oath in order to believe it. You will also need to include the place and date that you will sign it for later reviews.

If something is preventing you from appearing in court, you may be able to provide a written statement instead. However, unless you have a compelling reason to make a written statement, the court will usually require you to appear in person.

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