It may seem nothing more than a stamp and a signature, but those responsible for notarizing documents must follow strict rules for using their notary seal as unlawful or improper use is punishable by law.
A notary or notary public is a person who is licensed and commissioned to sign and seal official papers which are used in legal proceedings. A notary is used as an impartial witness who will ensure proper identification along with required signatures on legally binding documents before placing their notary seal of approval. Notarized documents are often used in many critical events such as:
• Buying or selling a home,
• Establishing power of attorney,
• Creating a will, and
• Adopting a child.
For these reasons, it is not surprising that there are lengthy laws regarding the use of a notary seal and criminal charges when these laws are broken.
Use of a notary seal
Title 46 Chapter 1 Sections 1 through 23 of the Utah Code discusses the Notaries Public Reform Act. Here is where all the laws pertaining to a notary public can be found including: required qualifications, prohibitions of use, liabilities of a notary public, and criminal charges for unlawful or improper use. Some of rules regarding the use of a notary seal include:
• 46-1-9.2 “A notary may not ( . . . ) perform any notarial act with intent to deceive or defraud.”
• 46-1-11(1) “A nonattorney notary may not provide advice or counsel to another person concerning legal documents or legal proceedings, including immigration matters.”
A violation of these and other laws regarding the use of a notary seal are punishable as class B misdemeanors. The same criminal charges apply to those who employ the notary or issue the seal to them who break the following laws:
• 46-1-18(3)(b) “It is a class B misdemeanor ( . . . )for: the employer of a notary to solicit the notary to perform a notarial act in violation of [The Notaries Public Reform Act]”
• 46-1-17 “A vendor may not provide a notarial seal, either inking or embossing, to a person claiming to be a notary, unless the person presents a photocopy of the person’s notarial commission, attached to a notarized declaration ( . . . ) “. A vendor who does so is guilty of a class B misdemeanor
A notary public or those employing a notary or issuing a notary seal who are facing any criminal charges are encouraged to seek legal counsel with a reputable criminal defense attorney.