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December 17, 2011

Penalties for notary misdeeds & misconduct!

Penalties for notary misconduct, crimes, and misdeeds 

I very rarely hear about notaries engaging in any type of illegal activity or illegal notarizations. The normal problem with notaries is lack of skill, neglegence, or bad tempers in a few cases.  I have only heard of one notary that engaged in a serious crime, and he went to jail.  This blog entry will discuss various types of notary misconduct and types of penalties for this misconduct in California. Please keep in mind that the notary rules are different in each of the 50 states, and that notary rules are also always changing.  However, if something is illegal in one state, there is a high chance that it will also be illegal in your state — although the penalties might be different. The information here is time sensitive and could change at any time. These are listed in the order of which I feel they are important to mobile notaries.
 
Asking a notary to do an improper notarization.
This is a misdemeanor.  If it involves real property, then it is much more serious.  Clients might ask you to notarize them using a different name variation that is not documented, or put a false date.  This is illegal. They are guilty for asking you to do this, and you will be guilty if you give in to their pressure. If you have driven thirty minutes to a job, you have a beneficial interest in notarizing their document unless you have gotten your travel fee up front when you walk in the door.  So, legally, you MUST get your travel fee BEFORE you see the document, or are informed who the signers are, or see their ID, because a conflict of interest can easily happen.  If someone asks you to do something illegal, you can threaten to report them to the Secretary of State’s office. This is a serious crime and you should treat it as such.
 
Issuing a false certificate
A notary who issues false certificates, and this could include backdated certificates would be guilty of a misdemeanor.  A false Acknowledgment certificate constitutes FORGERY.   Additionaly, the notary could have their commission revoked if found guilty of this crime, with an additional fine of $1500 per incident.
 
Failure to Identify a Credible Witness
A fine of $10,000 per incident could occur if a notary fails to check a credible witness’s identification documents and see that they have acceptable identification.
 
Failure to get a thumbprint!!!
This is my favorite.  Thumbprints are critical for identifying a signer if fraud is suspected.  Powers of Attorney and Deeds require a journal thumbprint in California.  A fine of up to $2500 per incident would be the penalty.
 
Failure to administer an Oath
A fine of $750 per incident could be incurred, not to mention revocation, or suspention of a notary commission, or refusal to grant a commission.
 
Felony Convictions
If you have a felony conviction or have been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, you will most likely not be allowed to get a notary commission in the first place.  If you already had a notary commission, it would be suspended or revoked the minute your state’s ntoary division finds out about it!
 
Professional Misconduct
This refers to dishonesty in your professional activities.  The penalty would once again be suspension, revocation, or refusal to grant a notary commission.
 
Failure of Duty
This means that you refuse to serve a member of the public who has a legitimate request for a notarization.  However, if the signer doesn’t have proper identification, or doesn’t have a properly filled out document, or seems very questionable, you have the right to refuse service to such a client.  The penalty would be refusal to grant a notary commission, suspension, or revocation of a notary commission. Additionally a fine of $750 could be imposed on the California notary public.
 
Falsely Acting as a Notary
This is a misdemeanor
 
Making false statements to a notary
Anyone who induces a notary to make an improper notarization with regards to real property can be found guilty of a FELONY.  This is the most serious type of fraud possible in the notary profession.
 
False or misleading notary advertising
Making false statements in notary advertising is illegal, and the penalty for California notaries is $1500 per incident.  Additionally, such a notary’s commission could be suspended, revoked, or there could be a refusal to issue a commission.  Claiming to be an immigration expert, or be able to give legal advice could be a serious example of false advertising. 
 
Selling personal information
If the notary sells or misuses personal information of those he/she has notarized, that is illegal as well.  Remember to keep your journals locked up, so that nobody can have access to that information. When making copies of journal entries, make sure that the neighboring journal entries are covered, so that their information is not shared with the public.  Once again, your application could be denied, or your commission could be suspended or revoked for such a crime.
 
Misstatements on a notary application (Application misstatement)
Your notary commission could be suspended, revoked, or refused if you are guilty of this misconduct
 
Here are some other crimes… I will just list them here, but may or may  not describe the penalties.
 
Failure to deliver a journal to the county clerk at the end of your commission. – misdemeanor
Failure to safeguard seal and journal – revoke/suspend/refuse
Failure to report a lost or damaged seal – $1500 fine
Nonpayment of judgement / Refusal to pay child support – refusal to issue a commission
Failure to keep a journal – such notaries will be prosecuted
 
There are a few others laws that I am not going to mention, but these were the interesting ones…

You might also like:

9/11 Notary Law Changes
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=212

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http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2354

How to complain about a notary public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2179

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18 Comments »

  1. I’m in California where I’ve learned very few notaries issue an oath for jurats and it’s not being enforced whatsoever. All clients tell me “no one’s ever asked me to take an oath before” including attorneys. They all look shocked when I take an oath. I’ve witnessed several experienced notaries fail to take my oath for jurats. My guess is that perhaps 5% perform oath’s for jurats in California.

    Comment by notaryslife — December 28, 2011 @ 1:45 am

  2. I totally agree with you notaryslife. I hear that same statement over and over again – “No one has ever put me under oath before.” It really makes me wonder where these notaries were trained and how they ever passed the notary exam.

    Comment by Rebecca Ruben — January 3, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

  3. What if a notary says u signed in front of them. And it is proven u did not sign in the presence of the Notary I’m talking about Corp. Papers and bank signatory forms etc…

    Comment by james — February 3, 2015 @ 9:43 pm

  4. I have had a total of 3 notary’s in the state of Florida sign and forge my name on properties deeds to two of my houses. One house was valued at $275,00.00 the other house valued at $220,00.00. One of the notarys notarized one of the deeds placing my property into another notaries significant others name. When I placed a complaint against the notary, Governor Ricks Scotts office telling them that I was never in the presence of any of the notaries nor did I ever sign any document. They still dismissed my complaint as if it was alright that these notaries committed a crime.

    Comment by Ramona — February 23, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

  5. I needed to close on a mortgage loan, and the notary public that came for closing had hung on me on the phone because she only wanted to speak with my husband and after notarization she went to visit my husband at work saying she forgot he did not sign one of the documents and asked him to help her get a job in his office, This is very unprofessional, she is up to no good! Lonnette Wiiliams is her name. She fell so free with my husband at the office, but looked too serious in my house.

    Comment by Smith Collins — December 9, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

  6. I live in Ca and two separate notaries signed two separate real properties but the notaries never turned their books in 11 years later and I am fighting my father’s probate. I have called the police detective and nobody will arrest them. What is my recourse as I know that my father never signed these books as the homes were stolen from me by my stepmother and sister. Help!!!

    Comment by Brian Reiser — August 2, 2016 @ 11:11 pm

  7. I was also kicked out of my father’s ranch by the police without investigating this can I legally go back then get the police for kidnapping charges if they arrest me?

    Comment by Brian Reiser — August 2, 2016 @ 11:13 pm

  8. A notary in maryland notarized an affidavit that was false. she did not even record it in her journal. when a complaint was lodged against her, she was just written up.

    snother notary in maryland did not sign his document, abd “lost” his journal

    Comment by sharon rainey — August 20, 2016 @ 1:20 am

  9. A notary in maryland notarized an affidavit that was false. she did not even record it in her journal. when a complaint was lodged against her, she was just written up.

    another notary in maryland did not sign his document, and “lost” his journal

    Comment by sharon rainey — August 20, 2016 @ 1:21 am

  10. A notary with an oil/gas company in Ohio notarized my signature, backdating it for a year prior when my name was different. I never met with him, either, so he notarized my signature w/o verifying who I am. The document he notarized was not the document I was told I was signing. I was in another state working when he claims to have certified this doc, and it was dated to coincide with a lease document that our neighbors signed.

    Comment by Sherry Zebley — September 4, 2016 @ 1:29 am

  11. what if i have notarized evidence sa wileman he seems to be vice presidents of many banks and j p tully notary aparently he isnt whom he says he isnt that fraud and whose attention do i bring it to

    Comment by bill werner — December 2, 2016 @ 8:25 pm

  12. what could i do i feel someone notarized a document while being a pecuniarily interest or conflict of interest here in NY? as i sat in a meeting with my gov/t job as im a new hire almost 6 months, and the meeting was to give me another 6 months of probation. the town lawyer was the one holding the meeting with my other superiors there and union reps. the next day the document saying what was being done to me was emailed to me and the same lawyer and town employee is the one who 3 times notarized this document. is this legal? if not what can i do about it???? thank you

    Comment by Howard Loewenstein — February 24, 2017 @ 9:44 pm

  13. I’m in the middle of a divorce. My husbands mistress is a notary public. He military. He gave her all of my info and she forged my name to remove me from joint checking and then added herself to his account. I have the documentation proving this.
    She was also a loan officer and notary at the small bank where he was approved for a loan to pay for the legal fees of divorce.
    I am waiting to find out if she actually was the one who approved the loan ( they were living in the same house at the time and she had already put her name on his checking.

    She also forged my signature as the slide to get a loan from out TSP military retirement for his attorney fees.
    My goal is not to have them jailed but to make them pay for the children and I very generously. I am disabled with kidney disease and they never knew I would find all of this stuff out, by grace one lawyer in the county agreed to take me pro bono until my husband pays his fees.

    I am a forgiving person, but with all of the fraud, forgeries ( found out he’s still been claiming me and the kids on taxes and saying I live with him). My children and I have had to depend on food pantries to stay afloat. I have the evidence of everything.

    My medicines make me get confused sometimes and I was wondering if anyone could tell what the charges would be for a notary who does this.
    Thank you so much for any advice or ideas.

    Comment by Sarah — July 9, 2017 @ 1:56 am

  14. Hello,
    I wanted to ask here in Texas is there a pentaly for a notoary public can sign off on a document with out the whole document even being filled out?

    Comment by Rosalina — September 15, 2017 @ 6:47 pm

  15. I had a notary for my child custody case whom after getting fired she contacted the respondent and told him a bunch of lies about me. Contacted the person that I had a case against, is that legal? Then when looking up her Notary info she lied about where she lived. I live in Florida. is there anythoing I can do?

    Comment by Shelby — October 12, 2017 @ 8:30 pm

  16. Please help I bailed out of jail it was a cash bail .the notary lady also worked there she used the copy of deed to my paid. Of home I used to bail someone out 13 years ago went filed it for double what I owe .me and the foreclosure place has asked for. A copy of the notary book with my thumb print over an over again. ,and nothing .what do I do california

    Comment by Tamra L Dorsey — January 6, 2018 @ 11:02 pm

  17. Who do I report this to? The office manager is signing her own name to the notary space on customs forms. We sell to overseas clients and our customs forms have a space where a notary is suppose to certify what is in the package. The office manager says she can’t be bothered and signs her own name. She is not a notary. Who does this get reported to? Thanks

    Comment by Pamela — March 20, 2018 @ 9:49 pm

  18. (legal) “judgment” does not contain an “e.”

    Comment by Linda Rose McBee — June 3, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

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