California Notary Law Changes
Notary law has changed tremendously in the last few years across the nation, but the single most important event that shaped notary law was 9/11. It took several years for the various state notary divisions to react and change their notary laws after this catastrophe, but they surely did. Several of the terrorists were easily able to get fraudulent social security cards and drivers licenses. The hijackers paid $100 to an illegal immigrant who had also fraudulently gotten his Virginia driver’s license — to execute the residency affidavit for the 9/11 hijackers before a Virginia notary public. This notarized document from Virginia was sufficient proof to get a Virginia driver’s license which they needed to get on the airplanes. The Virginia notary public involved in this transaction was prosecuted by homeland security.
After that incident, it was found that tens of thousands of fake Virginia identification cards and driver’s licenses were circulating, and Virginia made law changes as a reaction. Notarized documents were no longer sufficient proof to get a driver’s license. Virginia was not the only state to react to this catastrophe. The California notary division, and many others reacted too. Law changes started happeneing slowly, generally in 2005 and 2006.
Some of the main changes to California notary law were that personal knowledge of a signer was no longer grounds for personal knowledge. California notaries also are responsible to make sure the document being notarized is not fraudulent. Jurats now require being positively identified in California and almost every other state in the nation. There are other laws that changed, but now governments are being careful about identification and preventing fraud.
In my personal opinion, California should never had had liberal identification standards to begin with. The governments reaction to 9/11 is like frantically putting on your seat belt right after an accident. The time to wear your seat belt is BEFORE an accident, which means all the time. Additionally, the credible witness procedure in California and many other states is just as ludicrous as the personal knowledge form of identification. If you personally know someone, how well does it mean that you know them? There has never been a definitive standard other than that you knew them from a chain of events and people in various contexts which has several lines of text in legalese which nobody can make much sense of. Credible witnesses do not usually know a signer well enough to identify them before a public official. They know a signer as “Joe” their neighbor, and job could tell them his last name was Wagner, and the CW’s would swear to that before the notary when they don’t even know. California is still careless with its notary laws in many ways.
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