If an affidavit contains a lie, at what point in time is perjury committed:

  1. When the lie is committed to paper, before signing it?
  2. At the moment the affidavit is signed?
  3. When the affidavit is handed to a lawyer?
  4. When the lawyer submits the affidavit to court?
  • 2
    When it is sworn before an authorized official and becomes an affidavit.
    – xngtng
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 13:49
  • @zhantongz That'd make a good answer.
    – Chipster
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 18:19
  • @zhantongz But unsown affidavits are still signed under penalty of perjury. Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


When the affidavit draft becomes a "true" affidavit, that is, when the oath is taken or affirmation made before an authorized official. In most cases, this correspond to the time of signature, although technically it is the moment when you state your affidavit to be true under oath to the notary or other authorized persons.

For unsworn declarations made under penalty of per­jury, in jurisdictions that allow them to be used in lieu of affidavit, it becomes valid at the time of signature and a perjury would be committed then.

  • This assumes that it's relevant at that time, right? If it wasn't relevant at that time but became relevant later, I think this answer wouldn't apply. (For example, say the lie would only be relevant if the Defendant in a criminal trial claimed self-defense and at that time there was no reason to think that would happen.) Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 5:29
  • @DavidSchwartz What do you mean by relevancy? Federal law in US only requires false statement (that the person knew/believed it to be untrue) be made under oath to constitute perjury. Though in Canada, a perjury is only a crime if there was intent to mislead. Of course, it's unlikely for it to be prosecuted if the affidavit wasn't relied upon by someone and didn't have any real effect on judicial proceedings.
    – xngtng
    Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 18:27
  • You are incorrect. Federal law requires the statement be relevant. See, for example, 18 USC 1001 which says things like "falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact" and 18 USC 1621 which says, "willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true". Courts have understood this to mean that the falsehood must relevant. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 5:50
  • @DavidSchwartz You are correct, I overlooked.
    – xngtng
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 15:44

When it's sworn or affirmed

So, when the deponent signs it.

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