There is no legally recognized means to becoming a sovereign citizen in the United States. Individuals who identify themselves as sovereign citizens believe federal, state and local governments operate illegally. As such, sovereign citizens believe that policies, laws and regulations passed by these entities are invalid, notes the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Individuals who identify as sovereign citizens do so under a variety of names, including "freemen" and "constitutionalists."
Most self-identified sovereign citizens believe they can choose which laws to obey and that they do not have to pay taxes, explains the Southern Poverty Law Center. When faced with fines or jail time for violating laws they do not believe they need to obey, sovereign citizens file a wide range of legally unsound arguments that courts invariably dismiss.
At the root of the sovereign citizen movement is a belief that the government has misappropriated the common law system set in place at the institution of the United States. Accordingly, most sovereign citizens acknowledge the necessity of the judiciary but argue that judges misinterpret the law out of a treasonous loyalty to the illegal government, reports Southern Poverty Law Center. Some individuals linked to the sovereign citizen movement have undertaken acts of violence to support their beliefs — generally when confronted by governmental entities enforcing the accepted legal framework of the country.