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Can a Felon Become a Notary?

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When it comes to finding a job after their release from prison, felons find it challenging.  Jobs they once had are lost and careers may be gone.

Felons may think no one will hire them, but there are resources available.

They will have to be creative and willing to learn a new trade or start a different career.

This is the opportunity for felons to begin a new profession.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can become a notary.

  • What is a Notary?
  • What Training Does a Notary Need?
  • How Much Does a Notary Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Notary


What is a Notary?

A Notary is a person that serves the public as an impartial witness in signing important documents, which includes deeds, wills, and power of attorney.

A Notary is appointed by a state government to function in a position of integrity to verify the signor’s true identity, willingness to sign the document freely, and their understanding of its contents.

A Notary must be impartial and not act in their own interest in witnessing a document.

A Notary serves as a representative of the state to certify the signing of life-changing documents that are required in real estate, power of attorney, and other areas.

The role of a Notary goes back to the time of the Roman Empire.

A Notary accompanied Christopher Columbus on his voyage to the New World to account for all treasures found.  Mark Twain was once appointed as a Notary in Nevada.

There are certain specific skills necessary to carry out the duties of a Notary successfully:

  • Organizational ability to keep track of signed, official documents
  • Detail-oriented to ensure accurate completion of official documents
  • Able to work independently
  • Strong communications and interpersonal skills to deal with a variety of individuals seeking a witness
  • Integrity to carry out impartial duties
  • Knowledge of current rules and regulations in notarization
  • Effective time management to maintain an accurate schedule

What Training Does a Notary Need?

There are certain steps to follow to become a Notary.  First, they must graduate from high school or have their GED.  They must be a legal resident of the state in which they want to become a Notary.

State laws regarding a Notary vary.  Only California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania require Notary training.

For anyone wanting to become a Notary, training is strongly recommended to learn the regulations of the Notary industry.  Training courses must be approved by the state and 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, and 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 of their appointment as a Notary.

How Much Does a Notary Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 4.5 million Notaries in the U.S.  This occupation is expected to show a 4% growth by 2031.

The average salary in 2021 for a Notary was around $42,500 per year.  Typically, a Notary does not do Notary work full-time.  A Notary usually works in an office performing other office work which may or may not be related to their Notary duties.

Annually, a Notary can expect to earn at least $10,000 to $15,000 and much more depending on how active they are as a Notary.

It also depends on the area of the country where a Notary lives.  Those on the Northeast coast have the highest annual salary while those in Southeastern U.S. have the lowest.

An Opportunity for Felons?

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

Some states do a background check of those applying to take the Notary exam.  Even if a particular state does not 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 will usually go back as far as ten years, revealing any convictions whether felony or misdemeanor.

A 25-point scale is used to rank criminal offenses found in a background search.  This is the same scale that is used for the required annual screening of all working Notaries with an accumulation of 25 points disqualifying anyone.

A felony offense, such as drug sale/distribution, domestic violence, felony assault, theft, terrorist threats, and sexual crimes, will score 25 points.

A misdemeanor can earn 10 to 15 points each so that multiple misdemeanor convictions can easily total 25 points.

For anyone considering not being honest about their felony, it is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful in this pursuit, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming a Notary.

They are already working with the often negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

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

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, and educational opportunities.

Having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a Notary.

Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that they have not been convicted of a crime.

Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Notary

For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream of becoming a Notary, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.

Encourage them to find out if they qualify to have their record expunged.

Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become a Notary

Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a Notary with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “Can a Felon Become a Notary?”

  1. My employer is now requiring I become a notary. My conviction is over 15 years old and I have had my right to vote restored. The law in my state specifically defines a felony under and it involves fraud, violence and deceit. And it states a felon can apply if they have had voting rights restored. However, the oath on the application states “have never been convicted “

    So, I’m confused on how I apply and I also spoke to an agency who says I can apply but I need to confirm this with the state office.

    But I still cannot sign the oath because of the exact wording.

    So, I may lose my job, which means I lose everything, and I won’t be able yo find another one, it took me years to build what little I have now .

    don’t know what to do . I can’t eat , sleep or think of anything else. I am looking at the most recent legislation and it specifically say convictions over 10 years and voting right restore are eligible. But the oath says never. Can someone please explain this rationale To me because I about to lose my livelihood over this and I’m becoming physically sick. I don’t want to even deal with this . It’s all for my bosses convenience. And it is pretty crappy that I can be unemployed because the wording is wrong.

    This is a new requirement under my boss I don’t want or need to do this for me, I do not want a career as a notary I just want to Kerri my paycheck.

  2. Can someone with a dui felony and not have any other record just the dui felony only be elgibe

  3. Yes, ex-felons can become a public notary.
    You can have a mobile service where you are witnessing people sign documents.
    You probably will not be allowed to witness the more sensitive documents, like working in the Real Estate or Banking areas.
    I was looking in this site, nationalnotary.org and went through the 11 western states, and out of those states one can become a public notary in 9 of them, depending on how long ago you were convicted of the felony.


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