The secretary of state has the authority to suspend or revoke a notary public's commission or take other disciplinary action for "good cause". A good cause may include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) a final conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude;
(2) any false statement knowingly made in an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public;
(3) a final conviction for the violation of any law concerning the regulation of the conduct of notaries public in this state or any other state;
(4) the failure to comply with the Texas Government Code, §406.017(b) or (c), concerning the restrictions imposed on the advertising of notary services in a foreign language and the prohibition against the literal translation of notary public into Spanish;
(5) a failure to fully and faithfully discharge any of the duties or responsibilities required of a notary public;
(6) the unauthorized practice of law;
(7) a failure by the notary public to utilize a correct notary seal as described in the Notary Public Act, §406.013;
(8) a failure to administer an oath or affirmation as required by law;
(9) the collection of a fee in excess of those authorized by the Texas Government Code, §406.024;
(10) the execution of any certificate as a notary public containing a statement known to the notary public to be false;
(11) a failure to complete the acknowledgment at the time the notary public's signature and seal are affixed to the document;
(12) the advertising in any manner whatsoever that the notary public is an immigration specialist, immigration consultant, or any other title or description reflecting an expertise in immigration matters;
(13) the use of false or misleading advertising of either an oral or written nature, whereby the notary public has represented or indicated that he or she has duties, rights, powers, or privileges that are not possessed by law;
(14) performing any notarization when the person for whom the notarization is performed did not personally appear before the notary at the time the notarization is executed;
(15) previous disciplinary action against the notary public in accordance with these sections; and
(16) a failure to comply with, or violation of, a previous disciplinary action taken pursuant to Other Disciplinary Action.
(b) A crime involving moral turpitude means the commission of a crime mala in se (an offense that is evil or wrong from its own nature or by natural law irrespective of statute) which may include, but not be limited to:
(1) Class A and B type misdemeanors; and
(2) felony convictions which have not been set aside, or for which no pardon or certificate of restoration of citizenship rights have been granted.
(c) The dismissal and discharge of proceedings under either the misdemeanor adult probation and supervision law or the adult probation, parole, and mandatory supervision law shall not be considered a conviction for the purposes of determining good cause.
(d) Final Class C type misdemeanor convictions shall not be considered in determining good cause.
Other Disciplinary Action
(a) The secretary of state may determine that the conduct which is the basis of a complaint against a notary public does not warrant the suspension or revocation of the commission of the notary public. In the discretion of the secretary of state and after the initiation of a contested case, the secretary of state may seek, but is not limited to, the following disciplinary actions:
(1) official reprimand to the public notary;
(2) a consent decree to cease and desist from engaging from any further misconduct;
(3) an agreement to voluntarily surrender the notary public commission;
(4) an agreement to complete a course of study relating to the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a notary public;
(5) an agreement not to seek renewal of a notary public commission for a specified period of time; or
(6) to take such information action as the secretary deems appropriate.
(b) If no agreement can be reached, the secretary of state shall give written notice to the affected party of a right to a hearing in accordance with the rules of practice and procedure before the secretary of state.
(a) A person harmed by the actions of a notary public may file a complaint with the secretary of state. The complaint shall be filed on the form prescribed by the secretary of state for such purposes, shall be signed and verified by the person alleging misconduct on the part of the notary public, and shall substantially comply with the requirements set forth on the prescribed form.
(b) The complaint shall be reviewed by an employee of the secretary of state to determine if the complaint substantially complies with the requirements set forth on the prescribed form and if the actions complained of are sufficient to constitute good cause for suspension, revocation, or other disciplinary action.
(c) The secretary of state may determine that the actions of the notary public are not sufficiently egregious to warrant formal disciplinary action. The secretary may determine to take no action on the complaint, or the secretary may determine to informally advise the notary public of the appropriate conduct and the applicable statutes and rules governing the conduct. The secretary of state shall notify the complainant of the determination not to take further or formal action.
(d) If the secretary of state determines that the complaint alleges sufficient facts to constitute good cause for the suspension or revocation of the notary public's commission, or other disciplinary action against the notary public, the secretary of state shall notify the notary public of the filing of the complaint and send a copy of the complaint to the notary public.
(e) If the secretary of state determines to proceed on a complaint, the notary public shall be required to respond to the complaint within 20 days of mailing of the notice of complaint to the notary public. The response shall be in writing; the response should specify any disputed facts and provide such additional information as the notary public shall desire.
(f) The secretary of state shall review the response, and determine whether further administrative action is appropriate. If the secretary determines that no further action is appropriate, the secretary shall notify in writing the notary public and the complainant of the determination.
(g) If the secretary concludes that further administrative action is proper, the file will be reviewed by a staff attorney, who will determine the action that is appropriate. If revocation or suspension of a notary's commission is proposed, the notary will be informed of his or her right to a hearing to contest such revocation or suspension.
Time for Action
(a) A complaint which arises during the time of office of a notary public which is not disposed of prior to the end of the term may be pursued in a subsequent term of office. The secretary of state shall not be barred from seeking suspension or revocation of a notary public for acts or omission which occurred during a prior term of office.
(b) In the discretion of the secretary of state, the secretary may determine to take other disciplinary action after the expiration of the term of office of a notary public regardless of whether the notary public has renewed or will seek to renew the notary public commission.
If you wish to file a complaint with the Office of the Secretary of State, you may access the notary public complaint form (Form 2304).
The Office of the Secretary of State cannot obtain restitution of property loss that may have been caused by a notary's action. If you wish to obtain compensation for damages that were caused by a notary's conduct, you will have to turn to other sources. You may wish to contact a private attorney, or file a claim with the notary's bonding company. The Office of the Secretary of State cannot act as your private attorney. The Notary Public Unit can provide you with the name and address of the company that issued the notary's surety bond.
In addition, the Secretary of State does not have the power to prosecute a notary for criminal violations associated with the notary's official duties. If there is a basis for criminal action to be taken against a notary, you must file a complaint with the District or County Attorney of the County where the notarization was performed.