Notorio Fraud Bill Passes House

5861481206_3b2714224f_oThe Connecticut House of Representatives recently passed a bill aimed at reducing fraudulent representation of legal services in Spanish-speaking communities. The bill is in response to several complaints to the state about notaries public advertising themselves as a “Notario Publico.”
Last July, CTLatinoNews.com reported on the rise of notario fraud in Connecticut and Spanish-speaking Latinos seeking legal advice on immigration were being exploited.
The confusion occurs due to the fact that in several Spanish-speaking countries, a notario publico is allowed to perform certain services that only licensed attorneys are allowed to practice in the United States.
In this country, a registered notary public is not authorized to advise on immigration issues.
“I commend the House of Representatives for taking a step that I hope will reduce confusion in the Hispanic community as to who is allowed to practice law,” Secretary of State Denise Merrill said in the release. Merrill’s office oversees the state’s licensing and discipline for notaries public.
She urged to the senate to pass the bill to ensure the clarification that only licensed attorneys are allowed to provide legal advice pertaining to immigration issues.
“It is very important for the Spanish-speaking public to understand: a Notario Publico is not necessarily a Notary Public or an attorney licensed to practice law in Connecticut,” she said.
If the bill does become law, a notary public would be prohibited from offering or providing legal advice in immigration matters and representing someone in immigration proceedings unless he or she is a licensed attorney or authorized under federal regulations to do so.
Additionally, a notary public would be prohibited to use, assume or advertise the phrase “notario” or “notario publico” unless he or she is an attorney or indicates on the advertisement he or she is not a state-licensed attorney.
Violations to the provisions would result in penalties applied to the unauthorized practice of law.
If signed into law, the bill would take effect on Oct. 1, 2013.
(Photo by controlarms)

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