CA Assembly Bill 1159 | NNA

CA Assembly Bill 1159

Notary Law Update: CA Assembly Bill 1159

State: California

Summary:

AB 1159 establishes hefty penalties for translating into another language the terms “Notary” or “Notary Public” by a nonattorney. While the Government Code has had a similar provision on the books for quite some time, the effect of AB 1159 is to make the literal translation of these terms punishable under Business and Professions Code Section 6126(a), the statute penalizing a violation of the unauthorized practice of law by nonattorneys as a misdemeanor.

The bill is effective Immediately upon being signed into law by the Governor as an emergency statute; however, the higher immigration consultant bond of $100,000 takes effect July 1, 2014

Signed:  October 05, 2013

Effective:  October 05, 2013

Chapter: 574

Affects:

Adds Section 6126.7 to and amends Sections 22442.3 and 22443.1 of the Business and Professions Code

Changes:
  1. Adds that it is a violation of the unauthorized practice of law in Business and Professions Code Section 6126(a) for any person who is not an attorney to literally translate from English into another language, in any document, including an advertisement, stationery, letterhead, business card, or other comparable written material, any words or titles, including, but not limited to, “Notary Public,” “Notary,” “licensed,” “attorney,” or “lawyer,” that imply that the person is an attorney; and expressly prohibits the literal translation of the phrase “Notary Public” into Spanish as “Notario Publico” or “Notario,” by an immigration consultant or a person who is not an attorney.
  2. Provides that in addition to any other remedies and penalties, a person who is not an attorney and who literally translates any of the abovementioned terms in #1 above shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) per day for each violation, to be assessed and collected in a civil action brought by the State Bar.
  3. Clarifies that in assessing the amount of the civil penalty, the court may consider relevant circumstances presented by the parties to the case, including, but not limited to, the following: (a) the nature and severity of the misconduct; (b) the number of violations; (c) the length of time over which the misconduct occurred, and the persistence of the misconduct; (d) the willfulness of the misconduct; and (e) the defendant’s assets, liabilities, and net worth; and further provides that a civil action brought under this section shall be commenced within four years after the cause of action accrues.
  4. Provides that in addition to the civil penalty for a violation of #1 above, the court shall grant reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to a prevailing plaintiff.
  5. Raises the penal sum of the immigration consultant’s bond from $50,000 to $100,000 effective July 1, 2014.
Analysis:
With the prospect of the U.S. Congress considering comprehensive immigration reform legislation, the California legislature is gearing up for an increase in the number of undocumented aliens submitting applications to change their immigration status. When Congress enacted amnesty legislation back in 1986, the California Legislature enacted the Immigration Consultants Act to curb abuses that resulted from the enactment of the federal legislation. AB 1159 now makes it a misdemeanor for any nonattorney (including any Notary Public), to translate from English into another language in a document the term “Notary” or “Notary Public.” The new law also expressly prohibits the translation of these terms into Spanish by a person who is not an attorney. AB 1159 establishes hefty penalties for a violation of these provisions. While the Government Code has had a similar provision on the books for quite some time, the effect of AB 1159 is to make the literal translation of these terms punishable under Business and Professions Code Section 6126(a), the statute penalizing violations of the unauthorized practice of law by nonattorneys. In that statute, a violation of UPL is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in a county jail or by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. The statute furthermore provides that upon a second or subsequent conviction, the person shall be confined in a county jail for not less than 90 days, except in an unusual case where the interests of justice would be served by imposition of a lesser sentence or a fine. By contrast, under the Government Code, a violation is grounds for the Secretary of State to deny, suspend or revoke the commission of a Notary. The Secretary must suspend for a period of not less than one year or revoke the commission of a Notary for a violation, and upon the second violation, to revoke the commission permanently. Now, a violation is a criminal offense with higher penalties. AB 1159 also raises the amount of the immigration consultant surety bond to $100,000 effective July 1, 2014.
 

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