The Notary's Right to Refuse Service in North Carolina: A Comprehensive Understanding

Hello NC Notaries and General Public!

Today we're tackling a particularly critical aspect of notary practices in North Carolina: The Right to Refuse Service. In the line of duty, notaries are faced with a myriad of documents, each with its own importance and implication. It's the notary's duty to notarize documents that are legal, truthful, and in the interest of public good.

This role, however, also brings up the question: What if a document contains false information? Can a notary refuse to notarize such documents? Let's dig into the specifics and find our answers in the North Carolina General Statutes (N.C.G.S. 10B-22(a)) and North Carolina Administrative Code (18 NCAC 07B .0903).

# Right to Refuse Service: A Notary's Stance

According to N.C.G.S. 10B-22(a), a notary is strictly prohibited from completing a notarial certificate if he or she believes it contains false information. This statute ensures that notaries serve as a trusted and integral part of the legal process. It's not just a matter of professional ethics, but a requirement backed by the law.

If a notary is presented with a document that raises suspicions of forgery, fraud, or any dishonest information, he/she is bound by law to refuse to notarize it. Failure to uphold this can lead to severe penalties, both civil and criminal, for the notary.

# Instances Warranting Refusal

There are certain scenarios where a notary is not just allowed but obligated to refuse service. This might include situations involving:

- Notarizing a blank DMV vehicle title document
- Notarizing a DMV vehicle title document that doesn’t disclose buyer's name
- Document showing signs of embezzlement
- Cases of apparent forgery or fraud
- Potential identity theft
- Impersonation of a law enforcement officer
- Receiving stolen goods or property
- Document implying theft

Such instances warrant refusal because notarizing such documents knowingly is unlawful. It not only undermines the integrity of the notary's office but also aids illicit activities. This right to refuse service is not a choice, but a duty that each notary must fulfill.

# Obligation to Refuse: 18 NCAC 07B .0903

Building upon N.C.G.S. 10B-22(a), the 18 NCAC 07B .0903 goes a step further. It explicitly states that notaries have a legal obligation to refuse to notarize if they have reason to believe that the document is false, fraudulent, or will be used for dishonest intent.

This regulation underscores the importance of notaries acting as the frontline of defense against deceitful transactions. If a notary suspects a document or the circumstances surrounding a notarization to be dubious, the law empowers and obliges them to refuse the service.

# Final Thoughts

The right to refuse service is a significant aspect of a notary's role. It places a substantial responsibility on notaries to ensure that they contribute only to the documentation that upholds the law's integrity. Failure to respect this obligation can lead to serious legal consequences and the loss of public trust.

Notaries in North Carolina must be mindful of this critical duty and exercise their discretion responsibly. Every time you use your seal, you stand guard for the law and truth, making the role of a notary not just a job, but a commitment to the community's wellbeing. 

In the end, the right to refuse service isn't a limitation, but a testament to the notary's crucial role in our legal system. 

Keep being the guardians of legality and truth!

Stay tuned for more insights into North Carolina's notary practices!

Your NC Notary Coach,
Belinda B Bennett 

If you are a NC Notary and would like to further your learning and experience with a trusted Notary that looks out for the best interests of everyone,  take a look at what we offer.

Register today for Saturdays quarterly "NC Notary Basics" workshop.



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