Duty to Report a Crime, Colorado
Under Colorado law, Title 18 – Criminal Code, Article 8 – Offenses – Governmental Operations, Part 1 – Obstruction of Public Justice, CRS 18-8-115, Duty to report a crime – liability for disclosure:
it is the duty of every corporation or person who has reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed to report promptly the suspected crime to law enforcement authorities.
Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, a corporation or person may disclose information concerning a suspected crime to other persons or corporations for the purpose of giving notice of the possibility that other such criminal conduct may be attempted which may affect the persons or corporations notified.
When acting in good faith, such corporation or person shall be immune from any civil liability for such reporting or disclosure. This duty shall exist notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary; except that this section shall not require disclosure of any communication privileged by law.
Notary Duty to Report a Crime
Before, during or after a conversation, meeting or transaction, a notary may become aware of an actual, attempted or suspected crime such as fraud, forgery, identity theft, perjury, elder abuse, bribery, obstructing, threatening, influencing or assaulting a public official, disorderly conduct, harassment or other unlawful or illegal act.
A notary is required to know and follow notary laws, and is not required to know all laws. But, a notary can look up Colorado laws or federal laws on the Internet or consult with an attorney for legal questions or legal advice.
In many states, a notary takes an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and the state Constitution. The notary should know the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, and report violations.
If a notary has evidence and reasonable grounds to believe a crime has been committed, the notary has a duty to report a crime to law enforcement. An alert notary will gather and report evidence to law enforcement, such as a suspect description, vehicle description and license plate number. A notary journal may contain additional information, including a suspect’s ID number, signature and thumbprint.
A notary may complete an incident report in the normal course of business for any type of disruptive, unusual, suspicious, threatening, unlawful or illegal act, security breach or rule violation. An incident report may be in the form of a notarized incident report affidavit or attached to a business records affidavit.
The incident report should be completed promptly, before important details are forgotten. In some cases, the notary may have an audio or video recording or photo as evidence, or other witnesses.
The notary should use reasonable care to make a report in good faith, and not negligently or deliberately make a false report (CRS 18-8-111) accusing a person of a crime or committing slander or libel of a person’s reputation.
A person might request a notary to perform an unlawful act due to ignorance or misunderstanding of the law or confusion about the role of the notary. For clarification and understanding, the notary may provide information or show a copy of the relevant law to the person, but may not give legal advice.
As a public official, a notary must comply with the law and has a duty to report a crime.