Many individuals oppose governmental laws and regulations. Most protest in silent ways, but there are people who demonstrate their displeasure openly. Those that display this opposition may go to the extreme of declaring themselves sovereign citizens.
This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a sovereign citizen.
- What is a Sovereign Citizen?
- How to Become a Sovereign Citizen
- A Choice for Felons?
- Recommended Action
What is a Sovereign Citizen?
Sovereignty is the inherent and independent right to govern oneself. In the United States, only the people – not the government – have the right to life, liberty, and property.
The sovereign citizen movement is the formation of a group of individuals who believe they are answerable only to their own interpretation of the law and not that of the government. They believe they’re free of any legal constraints because the U.S. government is illegitimate.
According to the FBI, there are approximately 300,000 sovereign citizens, many of whom are classified as domestic terrorists. This is because they resist everything from speeding tickets to drug charges and view taxation as illegal.
Many sovereign citizens battle the legal system either through peaceful means by disregarding federal statutes or with violent protests.
The sovereign citizen concept began in 1971 with the teachings of William P. Gale, a Christian minister. According to Gail, the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution converted sovereign citizens into federal citizens by their agreement to a contract to accept benefits from the federal government.
A sovereign citizen believes there are two types of citizens: natural citizens and Fourteenth Amendment citizens. Natural citizens are seen as citizens because they were born in one of the 50 states and have revoked their U.S. federal citizenship.
They also believe that national citizens are not subject to any U.S. federal law, including the jurisdiction of the federal courts. They feel they’re subject to natural and common law only. Fourteenth Amendment citizens are viewed as being subject to federal and common law but can become a sovereign citizen.
Often, sovereign citizens view themselves as fighting against the government and other forms of authority using paper terrorism harassment and intimidation tactics.
Some of the supposed advantages of being a sovereign citizen are:
- Immunity to law, including statutory, civil, and vehicle codes
- Being able to dismiss anything in the area of legal business
- Discharging debts by bonds
- Not having to pay traffic tickets
- Inability to be sued in court
- Eliminating Federal and state income tax
- Regaining all money paid to the government, including the IRS
How to Become a Sovereign Citizen
Becoming a sovereign citizen starts with a tangible declaration. Since the sovereign citizen movement is self-proclaimed, there is no specific procedure in place to become a sovereign citizen.
Typically, a person will declare that the laws do not apply to him or her. He or she might declare that a home belongs to him or her by filing paperwork stating that he or she owns the home.
Sovereign is defined as “possessing supreme or ultimate power.” Those that declare themselves sovereign only believe in their own authority.
Some individuals will cancel their Social Security Number and birth certificate. These are actions that reflect their declaration of sovereignty.
A Choice for Felons?
Most sovereign citizens claim that the federal court has no jurisdiction to try them for a felony or even a misdemeanor. A sovereign citizen typically relies on the uniform commercial code (UCC), admiralty laws, and other commercial regulations when arguing that the court cannot place any agreement on him or her.
A sovereign citizen will deny the validity of any such statutes and cannot be found guilty of any violation of federal criminal laws. He or she typically thinks that individuals have been tricked into becoming citizens by entering into contracts through documents such as birth certificates and Social Security cards.
Many times in an attempt to deny falling under federal law, a sovereign citizen will protest any attempt to get him or her into court for any legal proceeding. At these times, a sovereign citizen may be found in contempt of court. For those who reputedly go against court orders, he or she can be charged with a misdemeanor and if this occurs often enough it can become a felony charge.
A typical charge might be:
- Tax evasion
- Practicing law without a license
- Money laundering
- Weapons charges
As a felon, taking such a stance and inviting criminal charges only places him or her in an extremely dangerous situation. It would be easy for a felon under these circumstances to be sent back to prison because of their prior criminal history.
A judge could easily decide a felon sovereign citizen has already lived in a way that is placed him or herself above the law. Becoming a sovereign citizen would only add to this view as a further demonstration of his or her disregard for legal consequences.
Examples of antigovernment “sovereign citizens” might be a felon living in high-end homes claiming them as his or her own, or being sentenced to federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
While a felon could become a sovereign citizen, it’s not a recommended course of action. Becoming a sovereign citizen does not involve any application or criminal background check. As a designation, it’s basically self-proclaimed and lived out as an individual choice.
In order to be successful in establishing an honorable life, it’s essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already seen as being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.
Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record. Expungement of a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
However, consistently ignoring federal regulations would defeat the purpose of expungement and set a felon up for further difficulties with the law.
Becoming a sovereign citizen might be tempting to live according to one’s own will, but it’s not worth it for a felon wanting to succeed in a new life. To give him or herself the best chance of success in staying out of prison, he or she needs to follow government regulations.
Having support from family and friends is important. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life without consistent protest of the government by being a sovereign citizen.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a sovereign citizen with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.