Do Affidavits in California Need to Be Notarized?

••• Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Even if you've never been to court, you've surely seen the procedure on television: a witness is called into court to testify and solemnly swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The written equivalent in California is called a California affidavit. It's a legal document the provides information known personally to the person signing. And, like live testimony in court, the witness swears to tell the truth. You can create a California affidavit by using an affidavit form PDF, then filling it in according to your situation.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Affidavit procedure varies among the states. In California, affidavits are legal documents that must be signed before a notary under penalty of perjury in order to be valid.

Affidavit Procedure

You hear it every day on the news: the courts are busy, backlogged. But they would be far busier if every person who had to make a sworn statement to a court, business or agency was required to appear in person, be sworn and testify. Instead, in many cases you can avoid a court appearance by using your state's affidavit procedure.

Generally, affidavit procedure requires that you make a written statement. You have to identify yourself, then set out information that is within your personal knowledge. That means you can't include "facts" you hear from someone else. For example, if you are filing an affidavit in a child custody matter, you might include any behavior on the part of either parent that you witnessed in person. For example, you could say that you saw one of the parents screaming at a young child on a particular date. But you could not say that the neighbor told you that he saw that happen.

Does an Affidavit Have to Be Notarized?

Affidavit procedure is not uniform in all states, although some requirements are the same. In every state, an affidavit must be signed by the person making it, and that person must swear under penalty of perjury that the information is true. However, in some states you must swear and sign before a notary public. This is the case with California affidavits.

California Affidavits

In California, affidavits are written declarations made under oath taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths. This has been the law since 1982 when California Code of Civil Procedure 2003 was enacted. As with live testimony, the oath-taking procedures mandated for California affidavits are intended to prevent perjury.

California Affidavit Form PDF

You don't have to create an affidavit from scratch. Instead, you can use affidavit form pdfs that you find on the internet. Essentially, affidavit form pdfs set out the format of an affidavit. They usually are in paragraph form, with the identity of the person making the affidavit at the beginning and the signature line at the end. The notary information comes last of all.

References

Resources

About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images