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CHAPTER III.

Part D. Civil Penalties

Section 1. $1,500 Penalties Imposed by California Secretary of State on Notaries Public

In general the civil penalty typically assessed by the California Secretary of State is up to $1,500 per violation for notarial misconduct. These penalties may be in addition to denial of an application or suspension or revocation of the notary public commission.
California Government Code section 8214.15(a)

The penalties of up to $1,500 may apply in the following circumstances:

•  The use of false or misleading advertising wherein the notary public has represented that he or she has duties, rights, or privileges that he or she does not possess.

•  Commission of any act involving dishonesty, fraud, or deceit with the intent to substantially benefit the notary public or another, or substantially injure another.

•  Execution of any certificate as a notary public containing a statement known to the notary public to be false.

•  Violating the prohibition against a notary public who holds himself or herself out as an immigration specialist or consultant advertising that he or she is a notary public or violating the restrictions on charging to assist in the completion of immigration forms.

•  Violating the restrictions on advertising notarial services in a language other than English or literally translating the words “notary public” into Spanish.

•  Willfully failing to discharge fully and faithfully any of the duties or responsibilities required of a notary public.

A separate provision of the law permits local and state prosecutors to recover up to $1,500 in a civil action from violators of the provisions relating to the unauthorized manufacture, duplication, or sale of the notary public seal and related offenses, including a failure to notify the California Secretary of State that a notary public seal is lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged.
California Government Code sections 8207.4, 8207.1, 8207.2 and 8207.3


Section 2. $750 Penalties Imposed by California Secretary of State on Notaries Public

The California Secretary of State may levy penalties of up to $750 for other notarial misconduct and these too could also result in either denial of an application or revocation or suspension of a commission
California Government Code section 8214.15(b):

•  Charging more than the maximum fees for notarial services.

•  Failing to complete the acknowledgment at the time the notary public’s signature and seal are affixed to the document.

•  Failing to administer the oath or affirmation.

•  Negligently failing to discharge fully and faithfully any of the duties or responsibilities required of a notary public. Negligent violations would include, but are not limited to, failing to maintain the notary public journal as required by law, taking improper identification, and failing to provide information to the California Secretary of State within 30 days of a written request.
 


Section 3. Other Substantial Civil Penalties

Several substantial civil penalties are possible if a notary public fails to either provide his or her notary public journal to a peace officer when requested to do so (California Government Code section 8214.21) or obtain the thumbprint in the notary public journal as required by California Government Code section 8206. California Government Code section 8214.23.

The failure to provide the journal to a peace officer is also grounds for denial of an application or revocation or suspension of a notary public commission. California Government Code 8214.1(r).

The failure to obtain a required thumbprint is also a violation of a notary public’s duties and is a ground for denial of an application or revocation or suspension of the notary public’s commission. The civil penalty for either notarial failure is up to $2,500. The failure to provide the journal to a peace officer must be willful. In both cases, either the California Secretary of State or a public prosecutor may seek the civil monetary penalty.

A notary public may be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 in two situations. First, if a notary public fails to obtain the satisfactory evidence required to establish the identity of a credible witness, the California Secretary of State or a public prosecutor may seek a penalty of up to $10,000. California Civil Code section 1185(b)(1)(B). Second, if the notary public willfully states as true a material fact that the notary public knows is false in a certificate of acknowledgment, the California Secretary of State or a public prosecutor may seek a civil penalty of up to $10,000. California Civil Code section 1189(a)(2).
 
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