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What is an Affidavit of Character?

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  • Written By: Eric Misener
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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An affidavit of character is a sworn statement by a person vouching for the good moral character of someone. The person vouched for might be the affiant himself or herself, or it could be another person. Such affidavits are used for a wide variety of legal and administrative purposes.

Affidavits are used quite commonly by the legal system and various government entities for several purposes. An affidavit is a sworn statement by a person, known as the affiant, setting forth certain facts that the affiant knows to be true. It usually consists of a brief statement of those facts and is signed by the affiant in front of a person who is legally authorized to administer an oath. The authorized person varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in most places, it would be a judge, a magistrate, a designated government official or a notary public.

As part of a subset of affidavits in general, an affidavit of character can take myriad forms and might be used for many disparate purposes. What all affidavits of character have in common, however, is that the affiant is attesting that someone is a good person and therefore worthy of being trusted with some responsibility. This is often in the context of receiving some privilege from the government that is not available to the population at large.

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In some places, for example, one must file an affidavit of good moral character for oneself when applying for a license to run a daycare center or nursing home. In such an affidavit, a person swears that she has never been arrested or convicted of certain crimes under the law. Applying for other licenses, such as a license to own a handgun or a teaching license, might require an affidavit of character to be filed by a person or several people who know the individual applying for the license. Usually, the affiant of an affidavit of character for another person must be unrelated to the subject of the affidavit, either by blood or by marriage.

In a legal setting, affidavits of character are sometimes required when one is requesting a pardon from an executive authority for a crime for which one has been convicted. They can be used in certain immigration cases in the U.S. as a piece of general background evidence for a person attempting to avoid deportation or gain some legal status. Historically, an affidavit of character could be used in a lawsuit to attest to a party’s good standing in the community, especially if the witness was unavailable to testify. Modern courts generally make much less use of affidavits in a trial setting, because they usually run afoul of the modern hearsay rules.

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