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What are the options if a fact witness in a civil case writes an affidavit that is filed with the court and later finds out that the affidavit is simply wrong? For example, the affidavit said that person A was in my office on July 31st of the past year and the person writing the affidavit reviews his files and finds that the office building was closed by the fire department on that day due to a natural gas leak. The meeting was supposed to take place on July 31st but actually the meeting took place on August 31st. If the person who wrote the affidavit knows that the date is crucial to the case, should the person take any steps to correct the affidavit? Let's assume that the error works to the advantage of the person on whose on behalf affidavit was written.

Clarification: This is in the state of Georgia, USA.

  • Inform the lawyer who asked you to submit the affidavit. Tell him or her that you would like to correct an error in the affidavit and submit an addendum. – Viktor Jan 13 '16 at 17:20
  • @Viktor The lawyer did not as much as return my call and told his client that once submitted the affidavits cannot be changed. Is the lawyer being completely honest? – user3270 Jan 13 '16 at 17:55
  • assuming this is in the United States, I think you should be able to amend your affidavit. – Viktor Jan 13 '16 at 18:03
  • @Viktor Clarification: This is in the state of Georgia, USA. Do laws vary much by type of case (this is domestic) or state? – user3270 Jan 13 '16 at 20:25
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The honest thing to do is to take steps to correct the affidavit, by filing a new affidavit in court. In some cases, you might be legally required to correct the affidavit. This would depend on the law of your jurisdiction and the circumstances of your case. Intentionally giving false evidence is illegal, so aside from any ethical obligations, failing to correct the record might see you facing an accusation of perjury.

In most systems of law, it would be unethical and illegal for a lawyer to rely on any affidavit which they knew to be false or misleading. If you have made an honest mistake and you have done the best you can to correct it, that is unlikely to result in criminal liability. However, you may have some other kind of liability if other people have relied on your evidence to their detriment (for example, this may constitute negligence). Giving false evidence is a serious matter.

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