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February 6, 2014

Help! I am getting married, my husband is in Jail and I need a Notary!!

“I am getting married and my husband is locked up in jail. Please…(sobs heard on the phone) I need your help. I have money and you are in the business. Let’s talk.”

I got the above message on my phone literally word for word from a desperate woman at around 11:30 p.m. on a week night. Given the tone of the message, I sensed some urgency and decided to call her back the same night to give her some options.

The first thing out of her was, “Hurry Up and meet me at Men’s Central Jail now”. Somewhat taken aback by her unusual demand at that late hour, I asked her to explain the situation. She started sobbing and said that she needs to get married and her husband is at Men’s Central Jail, getting ready to be transported out of state to another facility. I paused and asked her how I could help her because I am not a lawyer, a priest or even a Notary authorized to perform weddings. She said that she needed a document notarized that would allow her to get married without her spouse being present. Wow!! Cool beans but what about conjugal visits was my next thought, which of course I kept to myself.

Having done a number of Jail house notarizations, I was aware of the type of documents that are generally permitted in different jails. When I asked her the type of document she needs notarized, she said that it was an “Inability to Appear” form. We arranged to meet in jail the next morning after she agreed to my fees.

Next morning, I made my calls to the Warden’s office to check if the inmate was at the facility and if I could notarize the particular form that my client wanted. Receiving the approval, I contacted the Client and told her to meet me at the Jail lobby at 10 a.m. and asked her to bring me the inmate’s state issued ID that was current and valid. She told me that she had to retrieve it from the property room and that should not be a problem. Immediately a red flag went up in my head and I asked her to call me when she got the inmate’s ID. I told her that I would make myself available until 2 p.m. that afternoon.

Long story short, she could not retrieve the inmate’s ID because she herself only had a copy of her ID and could not establish to the satisfaction of the guards her relationship with the inmate that authorized her to get his personal property. She called me frantically at 12:30 p.m. and said that she could not get the inmate’s ID but had 2 witnesses, one of whom did not have an ID.

Here is a valuable lesson for those who want to be jail house notaries or notaries who use credible witnesses. In California, the notary can use 2 credible witnesses to identify the signer if the notary does not know either witness or one credible witness who knows both the notary and the signer. My client out of desperation grabbed two people off the street and probably paid them something to act as witnesses. The problem was that these witnesses never even saw the inmate (signer) before and were doing it because they were offered some money. I immediately told my client the reasons these witnesses were not qualified to serve as credible witnesses. By now it was 2 p.m. and she now tells me that she needs to drive back to Irvine and bring 2 witnesses with proper Identification who actually know the inmate. I told her that I could only wait till 4 p.m. and after that time I could not help her. If you have read through everything so far, you probably guessed it. I got a call at 4:45 p.m. from my client who found 2 credible witnesses pleading with me to come to the jail. I politely but firmly said “NO” to which she replied, “I have money and I can call another Notary who will bite on it”. I said, Go ahead……

Look for my next blog on JAIL HOUSE NOTARIZATIONS which will be ready to be published as a blog on 123 notary and on my website, www.a1livescan.com by the end of this month.

Muthiah Nachiappan

(1) Help, I’m getting married and my husband is in jail (sob) It was 11:30pm. She had cash and was desperate.
(2) Hurry up and meet me at Men’s central jail now.

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  1. I missed the part where for all your effort you collected a fee……

    Comment by Kenneth Edelstein — February 7, 2014 @ 3:21 am

  2. I did not collect any fees from this woman!
    Lord knows what she ended up doing.
    I wanted no part of her “scheme”.


    Comment by Muthiah — February 12, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

  3. Thanks for sharing this experience. I probably would have dropped her sooner because of too many loose strings.

    Comment by alan — February 13, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

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