Lying on a sworn affidavit is a serious offense. Depending on the jurisdiction, it may be considered perjury, interfering with an investigation, or any one of a number of other crimes. Offenses may be punishable by fines, community service, or even jail time.
A sworn affidavit is a typed or printed statement about a crime or suspect as made by a witness, co-conspirator, or other involved party. This party swears to the truth and accuracy of the statement by signing it. In many jurisdictions, swearing to such a statement is equivalent to testifying under oath in a court of law and carries the same penalties as lying under oath.
An officer of the law or of the courts may elicit a sworn affidavit for a number of reasons. It may be used to prove witness testimony needed to gain a search or arrest warrant. It may also be used in place of witness testimony in a court of law, though some criminal courts do not allow this because their jurisdictions give the accused the right to face his accuser. An individual may swear an affidavit testifying to an alibi in order to free an accused individual as well.
People lie on sworn affidavits for a number of reasons. They may be attempting to place blame on an innocent person, or they might be trying to protect a guilty person from prosecution. They also may be trying to hide their own illegal, immoral or embarrassing activities.
Lying on a sworn affidavit can have serious legal ramifications. In most jurisdictions, it is considered a crime and can lead to the arrest and detainment of the accused. Fees for convictions associated with such a lie can be high, and many courts allow for punishment with jail time, especially for repeat offenders. If convicted of a crime associated with lying on a sworn affidavit, an individual will have a permanent criminal record.
If the lie furthers a crime or hinders its prosecution, additional criminal charges may apply. For example, someone who swears falsely to the alibi of a guilty person may be charged as a co-conspirator or with aiding and abetting a crime. If the accused commits another crime while free because of the false affidavit, the person swearing the affidavit may face additional charges.
Lying on a sworn affidavit can have civil consequences as well. If someone falsely swears to having witnessed an innocent individual commit a crime and the falsely accused loses his job as a result of the charge, he may have cause to bring a defamation of character suit. Criminal and civil penalties vary depending on the jurisdiction and severity of the offense, but can include additional fines and jail time.