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Criminal Liability

Is it a criminal offense for a notary public to provide immigration services?

Notaries public who are providing immigration services to the general public may be subject to civil and criminal liability in many states. The Code of Federal Regulation §245a.1 states that no notary public, agency or any other person who is not an attorney shall represent, hold themselves out, or advertise that they are experts on immigration matters unless they are a designated entity as defined pursuant to Section 245a.1 of Part 245a of the Code of Federal Regulations (8CFR 245a.1).

Under what circumstances does a notary’s misconduct become a criminal offense?

If the notary's official misconduct enables a forgery, false writing, or other crime to occur, the notary may be held criminally liable as an accessory to the crime.

If I execute a notarial certificate that contains false statements, does that subject me to criminal liability?

Yes. In some states, notaries that execute notarial certificates with false statements can be convicted of a criminal offense. Such criminal conviction may carry imprisonment and/or fines.

Every time I notarize a document, I fear civil and criminal legal actions that may be filed against me. How can I prevent civil and criminal liability?

The notary public is only responsible for the execution of proper notarial procedures at the time of the performance of the notarial act in the presence of the principal signer. To eliminate liability, do not deviate from the notarial principles, standards, and procedures for anyone.

If a notary notarized a document while fully aware that it was fraudulent, will the notary be subject to criminal liability?

Yes. A notary public who signs a false or fraudulent notarial certificate is liable to criminal prosecution.

Legal disclaimer: The information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss, or consequential loss, out of or in connection with the use of the information contained on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions.