“True and false are attributes of speech, not of things.”
—Tho­mas Hobbes

Here’s what we cover:

A false document is one that is forged, groundless, contains a material misstatement or false claim, or is otherwise invalid. The recording of a false document with the county recorder will subject the person to both civil and criminal liability under Arizona’s false documents statute.

Civil Liability

The county recorder generally will accept for recording any document that is presented in recordable form. The county recorder does not verify the validity of a document pre­sented to him for recording. Deeds, deeds of trust, mortgages, and mechanic’s liens are typical of the documents recorded in the office of the county recorder.

A person claiming an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against real property, who causes a document asserting the claim to be recorded in the office of the county recorder, knowing or having reason to know that the document is false (as defined above), is liable to the owner of the property for damages. The property owner will be entitled to recover $5,000 or three times the actual damages caused by the record­ing, whichever is greater, plus the owner’s reasonable attor­ney’s fees and court costs.

A person who is named in a document which attempts to create an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against real property, and who knows the document is false, must release or correct the document within 20 days from the date of a written request from the owner to do so. If the person refuses to release or correct the document, he will be liable to the owner for $1,000 or for three times actual damages, whichever is greater, plus attorney’s fees and costs.

The owner of the property may file a lawsuit pursuant to the false documents statute in the superior court in the county in which the property is located. In addition to recovering damages, the owner may obtain a court order that clears title to his property.

A lawsuit for false document recording must be filed within one year from when the cause of action accrues, or it will be barred by the statute of limitations. A beneficial title holder has all of the same rights and remedies as the owner under the statute.

Criminal Liability

The recording of a false document could also subject the person to jail time and/or a fine. A person who records any document claiming an interest in, or a lien or encumbrance against real property, when he knows that the document is forged, contains a material misstatement or false claim, or is otherwise invalid, is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. This crime is seldom prosecuted, however.

The above article is an excerpt from Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, 2nd Edition (Fenestra Books, 2012), by Donald A. Loose, republished with the author’s permission. 

Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created. 

Have any questions about this topic?
We’re ready to listen.

Related Content

What is Arizona’s Homestead Exemption?

A homestead means a dwelling in which a person resides. The dwelling may be a house, condominium, or mobile home.

Arizona’s New COVID Laws

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Arizona, according to data compiled by state health officials, state lawmakers have enacted two new laws aimed at restricting responses to the malicious and malingering coronavirus.

Early Voting Under Attack in Arizona

In Arizona, recent laws have made it harder to vote early, including making it illegal to bring a person’s early ballot to the polls unless it’s by a family member or caretaker

Statute of Limitations: Time Limits to File Lawsuits in AZ

The law imposes time limits for the filing of lawsuits. These time limits are known as statutes of limitations.

Save on Court Fees – Consider Mediation and Arbitration of Disputes

Mediation is a process in which a neutral person (the “mediator”), often a retired judge, assists the parties in reaching their own settlement, but the mediator does not have the authority to make a binding decision.

Explore All Articles by Practice Area:

Don Loose Author
Lawyer | Loose Law Group | View My Profile

Donald A. Loose is an Arizona attorney, and the author of Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, and Estate Planning in Arizona: What You Need to Know.  Mr. Loose is a regular guest on radio shows featuring local newsmaker interviews. He may be contacted at don@looselawgroup.com.