Prove You Are Telling the Truth In Court

You’re off to Humber College in the fall but need an affidavit for your OSAP. Isn’t your driver’s licence proof enough of who you are for the Ontario Student Assistance Program?

Old buildings

When You Need an Affidavit

Sure your Ontario driver’s licence has your name, address and date of birth. But when government agencies or Ontario courts need legal confirmation your information is correct, they ask for an affidavit. Affidavits are used to:

  • verify your identity
  • swear documents are real
  • back up facts in a lawsuit
  • confirm actions were authorized
  • immigrate
  • obtain licences
  • or travel outside Canada.

How to Make an Affidavit

A notary public or commissioner for taking oaths witnesses and signs or seals (notarizes) your document. You can “swear an oath” the statements are true if you are religious or if not, affirm or declare it. Be careful what you write or sign and wait to sign until you’re asked. 

What Affidavits for Court Include

Going to court is another matter. Court affidavits are written statements you believe to be true because you saw it happen, heard it yourself or did or said something. You can add anything others told you directly — just include the person’s name and exact or approximate date they said it. Everything else is hearsay and may not be admitted in court. Bring any exhibits you want the court to see so the notary or commissioner can verify they are attached.

When Hearsay May Be Used

Some courts will allow hearsay, such as if you make a Supreme Court application directly in front of a judge. For example, if you apply for an interim (temporary) court order, the judge may accept a comment a third party made to you. Your affidavit should document who said it, when and why you think it’s true. 

When Children Testify

Courts prefer to hear from children themselves, especially in family court where a child’s best interests are at stake. You can submit an affidavit documenting what a child told you, but if the child is too young or upset to testify, the court may ask to hear from other parties like:

  1. An amicus curiae, a neutral third party who represents the child but has no obligation to advocate for them.
  2. A litigation guardian, who represents the child and can examine or cross-examine witnesses.
  3. An advocate or child’s lawyer, who must put forward the child’s preferences and wishes. Even if they are not in the child’s best interests.

Expert Evidence to Support Your Affidavit

Affidavits may benefit from an independent opinion from a professional such as an accountant. Be prepared to pay extra for experts to testify. Expert advice doesn’t come free, unless it’s from a friend.

Securing documents

Concocting a Fake Affidavit

Canada’s Criminal Code imposes stiff penalties (up to 14 years in prison) for making false statements called perjury or fabricating evidence. It includes any statement included in:

  • affidavits
  • sworn testimony
  • written depositions
  • or statutory declarations.

90 Days Jail for False Police Report

Falsely claiming his SUV was stolen to collect the insurance got Ontarian Victor Akinyemi 90 days in jail. The professional engineer bought a Land Rover on Kijiji for $14,500 in October 2011 and had an extra key cut. He reported the SUV stolen three months later. Telling the insurer he paid $21,000 and only had a single key caused alarm in court. The accused had told the seller and key cutter he planned to ship the Land Rover to Ghana. The judge speculated it had probably been sent overseas, explaining why an extra key was needed. Akinyemi was sentenced for perjury for insisting he only had one key.   

Fabricating Evidence Got Six Months Sentence

A Newfoundland fish and wildlife enforcement officer with an equally unbelievable tale got a six-month sentence in 2014 for fabricating evidence. James Webster claimed he used a GPS and Google Maps to plot an ATV user’s trail and ticket him for being out of bounds. At trial, Webster told the court he was unable to produce the GPS because it had been damaged and replaced. Testimony from RCMP and a co-worker proved the GPS was replaced, only 11 days before the ticket was issued. The map Webster gave the court was fake. 

Notary or Commissioner Not Liable

Akinyemi and Webster had no explanation for their crimes. Both were good citizens up to their convictions. It shows how serious an affidavit is. Only you can verify your statements are true — notary publics or commissioners of oaths aren’t liable if you lie. They merely witness that you swore, affirmed or declared what you said was real. Next time you’re asked for an affidavit, be sure you have your facts straight.

Asking help from lawyers

What to Do About a Fake Affidavit

Axess Law’s Ontario virtual notary publics help you make an affidavit or overturn a fake. Online video conferencing appointments are available 7 days a week, day or evening. Dial 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to book  yours. Notarize documents in person at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.