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Can a Felon Get a Notary License?

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Felons may think no one will hire them after leaving prison, but there are resources available. They will have to be willing to learn a new trade or start a different career.

Those with experience in the legal field may think about becoming a Notary.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can get a Notary license.

  • What is a Notary?
  • What is a Notary License?
  • What is Required to Get a Notary License?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is a Notary?

A notary is a representative of the state who certifies the signing of vital documents that are required in real estate, law, and other areas. He or she serves the public as an impartial witness in signing important documents, which includes:

  • Deeds
  • Wills
  • Power of attorney

A notary is appointed by a state government to function in a position of integrity to verify a signor’s:

  • Actual identity
  • Willingness to sign a document freely
  • Understanding of its contents

What is a Notary License?

A license is issued by a state agency to practice a profession and is required in order to call oneself a licensed professional. A license shows that someone has specific knowledge or skill necessary to do a job.

Typically, these types of credentials are attained after completing certain education. Licenses are legally required by the government to work in an occupation.

A license:

  • Is awarded by a government licensing agency
  • Gives legal authority to work in an occupation
  • Requires meeting certain criteria such as having a degree or passing a state-administered exam

For a notary, a license is typically called a Commission. It’s attained through the state after meeting certain standards.

What is Required to Get a Notary License?

There are certain steps to get a notary license. A person must graduate from high school or complete a GED and must be a legal resident of that state.

State laws regarding notaries vary. The only states that require training are:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania

Regardless of the state, for anyone wanting to become a notary, it’s recommended to learn the regulations first. Training courses must be approved by the state, typically last three to six hours, and can be found through the secretary of state’s office in each location.

Courses can also be located through a community college or the National Notary Association.

Only twelve states require passing an exam to be a notary:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Utah

Taking an exam will require an application, fingerprinting, and a background check. Those who become a notary are usually appointed for a four-year term with required renewal after that period of time.

An Opportunity for Felons?

Due to working with sensitive documents and concerns about integrity, a felony conviction will disqualify an applicant from getting a notary license.

Some states do a background check of those applying to take the notary exam. Even if a particular state doesn’t require passing an exam to be a notary, the application for appointment as a notary typically includes a question about criminal convictions.

A background search for a notary license will usually go back ten years, revealing any convictions, both felonies and misdemeanors.

A 25-point scale is used to rank criminal offenses found in a background search. This is the same scale that’s used for the required annual screening of all working notaries. An accumulation of 25 points disqualifies anyone from being a notary.

Certain felony offenses will score 25 points:

  • Drug sale/distribution
  • Domestic violence
  • Felony assault
  • Theft
  • Terrorist threats
  • Sexual crimes

Each misdemeanor can earn 10 to 15 points, so multiple misdemeanor convictions can easily total 25 points.

Anyone considering not being honest about their felony should keep in mind it’s a crime to falsify an application. Doing so could result in being sent back to prison. To be successful in this pursuit, it’s essential for felons to be honest about their background.

There are many success stories, as the Guide to Being Employed reveals. Having a goal, commitment, dedication, and perseverance can assist felons in achieving their dreams.

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, and educational opportunities for felons who need them. For many felons, having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a notary license.

Recommended Action

It’s a significant challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon that wants to become a notary and get a license. Having his or her record expunged and documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding in getting his or her notary license.

Support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We’re not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a Notary license with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

1 thought on “Can a Felon Get a Notary License?”

  1. I live in Virginia and I have had my restoration of rights restored by the govenor. I have been voting and selected for jury selection. When I turned in my application and fee they rejected it. It states that I can be a notary as well. In my state you have the option to do it online. I very much would like to do that. I sent them articles stating when the govenor did it. They act like they don’t know if he did it or not. They are asking me to provide a letter. I remember getting it but am having difficulty finding it. I just can’t believe that they have no records themselves of the govenor doing it. I know that there was big controversy when he did it. Alot of people didn’t like it and tried to get it rescinded with no avail. If I can’t find the letter what other options can I take?


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