Part 8. Enforcement, Sanctions, and Remedies.

10B-60. Enforcement and penalties.

(a) The Secretary may issue a warning to a notary or restrict, suspend, or revoke a notarial commission for a violation of this Chapter and on any ground for which an application for a commission may be denied under this Chapter. Any period of restriction, suspension, or revocation shall not extend the expiration date of a commission.

(b) Except as otherwise permitted by law, a person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor:

(1) Holding one's self out to the public as a notary if the person does not have a commission.

(2) Performing a notarial act if the person's commission has expired or been suspended or restricted.

(3) Performing a notarial act before the person had taken the oath of office.

(c) A notary shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if the notary does any of the following:

(1) Takes an acknowledgment or administers an oath or affirmation without the principal appearing in person before the notary.

(2) Takes a verification or proof without the subscribing witness appearing in person before the notary.

(3) Takes an acknowledgment or administers an oath or affirmation without personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of the identity of the principal.

(4) Takes a verification or proof without personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of the identity of the subscribing witness.

(d) A notary shall be guilty of a Class I felony if the notary does any of the following:

(1) Takes an acknowledgment or a verification or a proof, or administers an oath or affirmation if the notary knows it is false or fraudulent.

(2) Takes an acknowledgment or administers an oath or affirmation without the principal appearing in person before the notary if the notary does so with the intent to commit fraud.

(3) Takes a verification or proof without the subscribing witness appearing in person before the notary if the notary does so with the intent to commit fraud.

(e) It is a Class I felony for any person to perform notarial acts in this State with the knowledge that the person is not commissioned under this Chapter.

(f) Any person who without authority obtains, uses, conceals, defaces, or destroys the seal or notarial records of a notary is guilty of a Class I felony.

(g) For purposes of enforcing this Chapter and Article 34 of Chapter 66 of the General Statutes, the following provisions are applicable:

(1) Law enforcement agents of the Department of the Secretary of State have statewide jurisdiction and have all of the powers and authority of law enforcement officers. The agents have the authority to assist local law enforcement agencies in their investigations and to initiate and carry out, on their own or in coordination with local law enforcement agencies, investigations of violations.

(2) Any party to a transaction requiring a notarial certificate for verification and any attorney licensed in this State who is involved in such a transaction in any capacity, whether or not the attorney is representing one of the parties to the transaction, may execute an affidavit and file it with the Secretary of State, setting forth the actions which the affiant alleges constitute violations. Upon receipt of the affidavit, law enforcement agents of the Department shall initiate and carry out, on their own or in coordination with local law enforcement agencies, investigations of violations.

(h) Resignation or expiration of a notarial commission does not terminate or preclude an investigation into a notary's conduct by the Secretary, who may pursue the investigation to a conclusion, whereupon it may be a matter of public record whether or not the finding would have been grounds for disciplinary action.

(i) The Secretary may seek injunctive relief against any person who violates the provisions of this Chapter. Nothing in this Chapter diminishes the authority of the North Carolina State Bar.

(j) Any person who knowingly solicits, coerces, or in any material way influences a notary to commit official misconduct, is guilty as an aider and abettor and is subject to the same level of punishment as the notary.

(k) The sanctions and remedies of this Chapter supplement other sanctions and remedies provided by law, including, but not limited to, forgery and aiding and abetting.

(l) The Secretary shall notify the North Carolina State Bar (State Bar) of any final decision finding a violation of subsection (a) of this section by a notary who is also an attorney-at-law licensed under Chapter 84 of the General Statutes. The Secretary shall endeavor to provide a copy of any court order rendered under subsection (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), or (j) of this section to the State Bar in cases where the notary is an attorney-at-law licensed under Chapter 84 of the General Statutes. Any referral by the Secretary to the State Bar under this subsection shall be considered a showing of professional unfitness under G.S. 84-28(d), and the State Bar shall administer discipline accordingly. (1991, c. 683, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, ss. 6-8, 1121; 1994 Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1995, c. 226, s. 4; 2001-450, s. 3; 2005-391, s. 4; 2006-59, s. 23; 2013-204, s. 1.4; 2013-387, s. 5.)