Oops, didn't realize my CA notary license expired. Am I in big trouble?
December 9, 2012 8:19 AM   Subscribe

I let my California Notary license expire but did not turn in my journal or destroy my seal. I have NOT notarized anything since expiration of my license and basically notarized things so infrequently before that I forgot about renewing altogether. On the SOS website it says I should have turned in all my records within 30 days of expiration but it has been about a year. I am planning on doing this now but wondering if I will get in trouble, have to pay a fine, etc.

I know I should have paid better attention but was dealing with moving (another thing I should have updated with the SOS) and serious health issues (emergency spine surgery, pain killers, etc) at the time of the expiration. Whatever reminder came in the mail probably got shredded in a painkiller induced haze. I just recently realized my mistake and want to get a picture of how much trouble I'm in. I am planning on doing the right thing as soon as I unpack the notary stuff. I'm just curious about the consequences of forgetting to do things on time.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total)
California Government Code 8209 says that " willfully fails or refuses to deliver all notarial records and papers to the county clerk within 30 days, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be personally liable for damages to any person injured by that action or inaction."

So, it seems like if you refused to hand over your information, you'd possibly be guilty of a misdemeanor at most. Probably if you make it clear that you forgot, and nobody has needed the information, you'll be okay.

Obviously I am not a lawyer. I'm just a googler.
posted by itsamermaid at 8:27 AM on December 9, 2012

I think you should schedule an initital consultation with a lawyer experienced in state licensing matters; he or she will be able to explain to you whether or not this is a big deal, and the cost of the consultation relative to the peace of mind you'll achieve is inexpensive.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:53 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

IANAL but I am a lapsed notary public. The state in which I held the office did not require notaries public to keep a sequential journal, let alone surrender same upon expiration of the commission.

That background may bias me, but after reading the code section itsamermaid linked, and after reading it in the broader context of related code sections found in Calfornia's Notary Handbook (p. 30), I think you're fine.

You haven't willfully failed or refused to delivery your documents, you just forgot. You even have a reasonable excuse for forgetting. Since you have seldom notarized documents, it seems unlikely that anyone has been injured by your inaction. After you turn in your records and destroy your seal, you should completely stop worrying about this.
posted by Snerd at 12:04 PM on December 9, 2012

Anecdotally, I turned in my California records about a year or more late after my status as notary lapsed. I mailed them in. No problems.
posted by studioaudience at 9:23 PM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Studioaudience, did you send the journals as is or did u write a letter explaining what happened with the 10 dollar fee per journal.
posted by so.so.def at 12:11 AM on February 25, 2013

Anonymous, you are straight. Just send your journals to your la county recorder, so they can put it in their storage room, so if one of the individuals you did a signing for needs it. They can request a copy of your notarization from your book from the la county recorders office. It is 10 bucks storage fee.
posted by so.so.def at 8:23 AM on February 25, 2013

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