Bribery and Corrupt Influence of a Notary Public
In Colorado, Bribery and Corrupt Influences are defined in the criminal code, Title 18, Article 8 Offenses – Governmental Operations, Part 3. Bribery is a class 3 felony.
Some customers may attempt to offer a bribe, or use another method of corrupt influence, to persuade a notary public to make a decision or commit an act. As a public official, a notary must obey notary laws and must not violate anti-corruption laws.
“Public servant” includes persons who presently occupy the position of a public servant or have been elected, appointed, or designated to become a public servant, although not yet occupying that position.
CRS 18-8-302. Bribery
(1) A person commits the crime of bribery, if:
(a) He offers, confers, or agrees to confer any pecuniary benefit upon a public servant with the intent to influence the public servant’s vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion, or other action in his official capacity; or
(b) While a public servant, he solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit upon an agreement or understanding that his vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion, or other action as a public servant will thereby be influenced.
(2) It is no defense to a prosecution under this section that the person sought to be influenced was not qualified to act in the desired way, whether because he had not yet assumed office, lacked jurisdiction, or for any other reason.
“Pecuniary benefit” is benefit in the form of money, property, commercial interests, or anything else the primary significance of which is economic gain.
CRS 18-8-304. Soliciting unlawful compensation
A public servant commits a class 2 misdemeanor if he requests a pecuniary benefit for the performance of an official action knowing that he was required to perform that action without compensation or at a level of compensation lower than that requested.
Notaries must not charge notary fees that exceed the maximum amount allowed by law. For clarity, if bundled services are provided, notary fees should be itemized separately from other services rendered, such as travel fees, signing agent fees, printing, copying, mailing and other services or supplies included.
CRS 18-8-306. Attempt to influence a public servant
Any person who attempts to influence any public servant by means of deceit or by threat of violence or economic reprisal against any person or property, with the intent thereby to alter or affect the public servant’s decision, vote, opinion, or action concerning any matter which is to be considered or performed by him or the agency or body of which he is a member, commits a class 4 felony.
Giving a false name or showing a false identification to a notary may be a violation of this statute. In People v. Beck, 187 P.3d 1125 (Colo. App. 2008),
Evidence supported a charge under statute where defendant gave a false name to a police officer during a traffic stop with intent to alter officer’s official actions toward defendant.
Colorado Constitution Gift Ban
Notaries must be neutral and impartial and must not solicit or accept any pecuniary benefit for completing a notarial act, other than the fees allowed by law for notary services. A de minimis (minimal) thank you or courtesy, such as a snack, coffee or beverage may be acceptable, but cash gifts, tips, gratuities, property, services or quid pro quo (Latin: something for something) deals should be declined to avoid impropriety.
Amendment 41 of the Colorado Constitution, passed in 2006, includes a gift ban for public officials and states:
The people of the state of Colorado hereby find and declare that:
(a) The conduct of public officers, members of the general assembly, local government officials, and government employees must hold the respect and confidence of the people;
(b) They shall carry out their duties for the benefit of the people of the state;
(c) They shall, therefore, avoid conduct that is in violation of their public trust or that creates a justifiable impression among members of the public that such trust is being violated;
(d) Any effort to realize personal financial gain through public office other than compensation provided by law is a violation of that trust.
Amendment 41 originally set the maximum value of acceptable gifts to lawmakers and other elected officials at $50. Lobbyists are prohibited by an ethics amendment from providing gifts of any kind to lawmakers. The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission has increased the maximum allowable gift value several times, to $53, then $59 in 2015, and $63 in 2019.
[Last-Modified Date 2019-02-12] update ethics commission gift ban value