by notaries public or others in connection with notarial acts may be
addressed through criminal, civil or administrative laws and
Criminal misconduct may be a felony, misdemeanor or infraction. A felony
is punishable by a term in state prison or county jail. A fine may also
be imposed in addition to any imprisonment. A misdemeanor is punishable
by a term in jail, probation, a fine or all three. An infraction is
punishable by a fine. Criminal misconduct may result in the revocation,
suspension or denial of a notary publicís commission or application.
Civil misconduct subjects a notary public to fines and may also lead to
suspension or revocation of the notary publicís commission or denial of
a notary public application by the California Secretary of State.
California Government Code section 8214.1(e)
Also, a notary public
and the sureties on the notary publicís official bond are liable in a
civil action for all the damages sustained from a notary publicís
misconduct. California Government Code section 8214
Administrative action can be taken against a notary public or notary
public applicant to suspend or revoke a notary public commission or deny
a notary public application for failing to discharge the duties and
responsibilities required of a notary public.
Code section 8214.1(d)
Part A. Conflict of Interest
A notary public who has a direct financial or beneficial interest in a
transaction cannot perform any notarial act in connection with that
transaction. California Government Code section 8224.
tip: Since California is a community property state, it is important for
a notary public to exercise great care when performing notarial services
for a spouse or domestic partner in order to avoid potential conflicts
Section 1. Financial Transactions
If a notary public is named individually as a principal in a financial
transaction, the notary public has a direct financial or beneficial
interest in the transaction and a conflict of interest and cannot
perform any notarial acts in connection with that transaction.
California Government Code section 8224. For example, if the notary
public is named as a party in a contract or is assigned the proceeds of
a sale, the notary public has a direct financial conflict of interest
and must not perform any notarial acts in connection with the
Section 2. Real Property
In the area of real property, a notary public has a conflict of interest
if the notary public is a grantor, grantee, mortgagor, mortgagee,
trustor, trustee, beneficiary, vendor, vendee, lessor, or lessee in the
transaction. California Government Code section 8224. For example, if
a notary public is a grantee of a deed of sale for a house or is
assigned rents or is paying off a home mortgage, the notary public is
prohibited from performing any notarial act in connection with that
Section 3. No Conflict of Interest if Acting for Someone Else
If a notary public acts as an agent, employee, insurer, attorney
(assuming the notary public is admitted to practice law in California),
escrow or lender for another person who has a direct financial or
beneficial interest in a transaction, then the notary public does not
have a prohibited direct financial or beneficial interest.
Government Code section 8224(b). In other words, a notary public acting
as an agent for another person can perform notarial services. Or if a
notary public works for a company that will receive benefits or money
from a transaction, the notary public can perform notarial services in
connection with that transaction. The notary public is not benefiting
directly, even if the notary publicís employer receives a benefit.