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Michigan Bills Would Set New Penalties For Notary and Real Property-Related Crimes

A set of Notary-related bills in Michigan that have been submitted to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature send a clear message to Notaries and employers that intentional misconduct involving real estate documents will carry severe penalties.

The assorted group of bills includes various provisions to deter real property fraud, such as making it a crime to falsify information or make deliberate errors on real property documents. One bill — Senate Bill 252 — makes it a felony to intentionally violate state Notary laws when notarizing documents involving real property or a mortgage transaction. Other bills increase the maximum penalties for fraud-related crimes and add notarial violations to the sentencing guidelines in the state’s criminal code.

According to a state legislative report, the FBI listed Michigan as one of the top 10 states suffering a significant mortgage fraud problem — but the state currently lacks statutes defining mortgage fraud as a separate crime.

At the state level, offenders found guilty of crimes involving real property documents have been prosecuted under other statutes with lesser penalties or that did not always apply to real property-fraud, the report stated.

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