CA Assembly Bill 361 | NNA
Law

CA Assembly Bill 361

Notary Law Update: CA Assembly Bill 361

State: California

Summary:

Assembly Bill 361 toughens the penalties already on the books for a number of offenses relating to the performance of notarial acts. AB 361 now requires that the California “all-purpose” acknowledgment form must be used verbatim for all acknowledgments taken within California.

Signed:  September 22, 2005

Effective:  January 01, 2006

Chapter: 295

Affects:

Amends Section 1189 of the Civil Code, Section 8225 of the Government Code, and Section 470 of the Penal Code; adds Sections 8214.8 and 8228.1 to the Government Code

Changes:
  1. Requires that any acknowledgment taken in California must use the California “all-purpose” acknowledgment certificate without deviation. (Previously, the law read that the acknowledgment must be in “substantially” the form of the all-purpose certificate.)
  2. In addition to other penalties, requires the  court to revoke the Notary’s commission for a conviction for any criminal offense in Title 2, Division 1, Chapter 3 of the Government Code (“Notaries Public”), Section 6203 of the Government Code, or any felony; requires the Notary to surrender the official seal to the court; and requires the court to forward the seal and a certified copy of the judgment to the Secretary of State.
  3. Classifies as a misdemeanor the act of soliciting, coercing, or unduly influencing a Notary to perform an improper notarial act with respect to the official journal of notarial acts outlined in Government Code Section 8206.
  4. Clarifies that the misdemeanor penalty for unduly influencing a Notary to perform an improper notarial act is not an exclusive remedy for any offense under Section 8225.
  5. In addition to any other relief or remedy provided by law, prohibits and classifies as a misdemeanor the willful failure by a Notary to perform any duty with reference to the official journal (Government Code Section 8206), the willful failure to keep the official seal under the Notary’s direct and exclusive control, or the surrendering of the official seal to any unauthorized person.
  6. Classifies as a forgery the act of falsifying an acknowledgment certificate, issuing an acknowledgment certificate knowing it to be false, or counterfeiting or forging of the signature or seal of a Notary with intent to defraud.
Analysis:

Signed by the Governor and touted as one in a package of anti-identity theft bills, Assembly Bill 361 toughens the penalties already on the books for a number of offenses relating to the performance of notarial acts. Significantly, AB 361 requires a court to automatically revoke the commission of a Notary for any criminal conviction related to a Notary’s duties as outlined in the Government Code, for committing a felony, or for issuing a certificate containing statements that are false (Gov’t Code Section 6203). (Currently, the Secretary of State has discretion to revoke the commission for any of these offenses.) AB 361 expands the offenses constituting solicitation or coercion of a Notary to perform an improper notarization to include any act involving the Notary’s journal, such as unduly influencing a Notary to record an improper or false journal entry for a notarial act. New misdemeanor offenses instituted by AB 361 include a Notary’s willful failure to perform any duty with respect to the official journal of notarial acts and willful failure to safeguard the seal when not in use, as well as surrendering the seal to any unauthorized person. Effective January 1, 2006, it will be a criminal act of forgery to counterfeit, forge, or falsify a Notary’s official signature, seal, or acknowledgment certificate with intent to defraud. Finally, AB 361 now requires that the California “all-purpose” acknowledgment form must be used verbatim for all acknowledgments taken within California. This change is intended to bring Civil Code Section 1189 into line with the newly enacted Government Code Section 8202, a similar requirement that all jurats conform exactly to the statutory jurat certificate wording. Ironically, one early provision that would have significantly deterred ID theft and frauds involving notarial acts – a provision requiring a journal thumbprint for all notarial acts – was struck from the bill.

Read the bill text.

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