Go to Jail, but DO collect $100
As a notary on official business, not to become a “resident”. I’ve been to several jails. They, so far, have shared a virtually identical routine. Oops, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. First, you need the assignment. In your profile on 123notary.com did you check the box for Jail Signings. You can access that part of your profile by selecting “Edit Additional Info”. While there glance at your commission expiration date – often overlooked, it needs to be kept current. OK, now you do qualify to show in a search for Jail.
Once the call comes in, obtain the basic information; stressing the need for ID. Not just asking that it will be available; verify that your state mandated ID will be available. The jails I have visited issued a “must carry” photo ID to each inmate. I do not accept that ID. Often, you will be meeting an attorney who needs the inmate signature notarized. Once in a while an attorney will present their interpretation of what is proper ID. They tend to be good talkers. True, it’s a different environment; but you know notary law; they don’t. Have the ID issue fully handled prior to any making any commitment.
You might not be admitted. Accept that as a fact. The facility might have a rule that only the attorney and family can visit. Make it absolutely clear to your client that your fee is earned by meeting them at the facility and putting forth “best efforts” to complete the job. My visits have always been with attorneys. They say the right things to the admitting guard. But there are no guarantees; they are not (IMHO) obligated to let you in. With ID and getting in being issues, all jail Notary assignments are prepaid. Make sure to have your driver license and current proof of your notary commission.
You should prepare for your visit. What works for me is having two zip lock plastic bags. One is for what I wish to bring in, the other for what I cannot bring in. After checking in, the two bags are surrendered at the window. They are very choosey about what goes in. Your embosser will probably be forbidden, stamping device usually accepted. However, a better strategy is to go in with absolutely nothing. Do the notarizations in the lobby, after you leave the secure area. On those days I wear my Velcro closing belt, without a bit of metal. When I tell the metal detector operator it’s Velcro and has no metal; I’m usually allowed to wear it.
It’s a Jail. You will be told what to do. Avoid asking any questions and comply immediately with what you are told to do. Doors slide open and clang shut. Your photograph may be taken. Your hand might receive a visitor stamp, similar to the “paid for admission” at many events. You will be told to sit someplace and wait. They are not in a hurry. Time is what they serve, often in great quantities. Eventually, the prisoner will arrive; sometimes you will be directed to a conference room. The cardinal rule is to give nothing whatsoever to the inmate. Nothing. If you had to bring in a pen, make sure you leave with it.
ID checked, signatures given oath; take possession of the pages with the signatures witnessed. You don’t want your client accidently adding or changing documents for different ones that were also signed. Making certain to enter the correct county in the Venue; complete the process after your “release”. You should do at least one Jail “visit”; strict adherence to notary law will follow.
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Meeting clients at a jail