Assembly Bill 886 (Chapter 399, Statutes of 2007) and Assembly Bill 434 (Chapter 496,
Statute of 2007) make a number of significant changes in notarial law. The (legal) text of the new
laws can be found at:
The new laws take effect January 1, 2008.
Civil Code section 1185 - Acknowledgment; requisites. The identity of the
person making an acknowledgment may no longer be established by personal knowledge
alone. Under the new law, the identity of the person making the acknowledgment must be
established by specified documents or a credible witness who is personally known to the
notary public and proves their identity by specified documents. Violation of the section
subjects a notary public to a civil penalty of up to $10.000 in an administrative action
brought by the Secretary of State or a public prosecutor.
Civil Code section 1189- Certificate of Acknowledgment. The certificate of
acknowledgment is now executed under penalty of perjury. A notary public who willfully
states as true any material fact known to be false can be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
Government Code section 6203 - Criminal offense. A four-year statute of
limitations is added to the misdemeanor crime of a notary public who makes and
delivers as true any certificate or writing that contains statements known to be false.
Government Code section 8201.1 - Additional qualifications; fingerprints.
Notary public applicants shall submit fingerprints to the Department of Justice for the
purpose of a background check. Under the new law, the fingerprints will also be submitted
to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secretary of State will be informed of any
results as well as any subsequent arrests.
Government Code section 8201.5 - Application form. A notary public applicant
must submit a photograph of himself/herself to the Secretary of State along with the application.
Government Code section 8202 - Execution of jurat. The identity of the
affiant may no longer be established by personal knowledge alone. "Personal knowledge"
as a basis for identifying the affiant when executing a jurat has been deleted. "Satisfactory
evidence" must be used to identify an affiant in accordance with Civil Code section 1185
Government Code section 8206 - Sequential journal. A statement about the
identity of a person making an acknowledgment, or taking an oath or affirmation must
be based on "satisfactory evidence" in conformity with Civil Code section 1185 (see
above). Also, a power of attorney is added to the list of notarized documents that
require a thumbprint. Further, when requested by a peace officer investigating a
criminal offense, a notary public must surrender his or her journal immediately or
as soon as possible if the journal is not present. The peace officer must have probable
cause to believe the journal contains evidence of a criminal offense. The peace officer
who seizes a journal must notify the Secretary of State within 24 hours or as soon as
possible of the name of the notary public whose journal was seized.
Government Code section 8213.5 - Change in location. A notary public may
not use a commercial mail receiving agency or post office box as his or her principal
place of business or residence unless the notary public provides the Secretary of State
with a physical street address as the principal place of residence. Willful failure to notify
the Secretary of State of a change of address is now punishable as an infraction by a
fine of up to $500.
Government Code section 8213.6 - Name changes; application; filing. Willful
failure to notify the Secretary of State of a name change is now punishable as an infraction
by a fine of up to $500.
Government Code section 8214.1 - Grounds for refusal. Willful failure to report
the theft or loss of a journal is now expressly stated as grounds for revocation or suspension
of a notary public. New grounds for denial of an application or revocation or suspension
have been added for crimes connected to notarial acts: making a false writing, fraud
relating to a deed of trust, improper notarial acts, unlawfully acting as a notary public,
filing false or forged documents, forgery, embezzlement, and falsely obtaining personal
information. Also, willful failure to provide access to a journal when requested by a police
officer is now grounds for revocation or suspension.
Government Code section 8214.2 - Fraud deed of trust. In addition to being
guilty of a felony, a notary public who defrauds in relation to a deed of trust on real
property single-family residence by means of forgery may be subject to other reliefer
remedies provided to the parties by law.
Government Code section 8214.15 - Civil penalties. Willful violation of
subdivision (d) of Section 8214.1 (failure to discharge the duties or responsibilities
of a notary public) is deleted.
Government Code section 8214.21 (New Section) - Failure to provide
journal, penalty. Willful failure of a notary public to provide a peace officer with a
journal when requested is punishable by a civil penalty of up to $2,500. The Secretary
of State or a public prosecutor may seek such a penalty.
Government Code section 8214.23 (New Section) - Failure to obtain
thumbprint, penalty. A notary public who fails to obtain a thumbprint as required
by Government Code section 8206 is subject to a civil penalty up to $2,500.
Either the Secretary of State or a public prosecutor may seek this penalty.
There is a four-year statute of limitations for this offense.
Government Code section 8221 - Destruction, defacement, concealment
of records. Willfully destroying, defacing, or concealing records belonging to a notary
public now has a four-year statute of limitations. The criminal penalty is not the exclusive
reliefer remedy provided by law.
Government Code section 8225 - Improper notarial acts. The misdemeanor
crime of soliciting, coercing, or influencing a notary public to perform an improper
notarial act, knowing it to be improper, now has a four-year statute of limitations.
Government Code section 8228 - Enforcement of chapter. In addition
to the Secretary of State, a peace officer, acting within his or her authority may
also enforce this Chapter 3 of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code
relating to notaries public by examining a notary public's pertinent records.
Government Code section 8228.1 - Willful failure to control seal. A
four-year statute of limitations is added to the misdemeanor crime of a notary
public willfully failing to perform his or her required duties or failing to keep the
notary public seal under his or her direct and exclusive control.