While the FBI does not have an official number of sovereign citizens, one analyst estimates there are about 100,000 across the nation. In 2009, 10 were legally convicted. That number increased to 18 in both 2010 and 2011, but most of the convictions were for white-collar crimes.
The FBI notes one particular example of a white collar crime that escalated into a standoff involving a New Hampshire couple convicted of federal income tax evasion, failure to honor federal payroll taxes, and other conspiracy fraud charges.
Elaine and Edward Brown, both sovereign-citizen extremists in their 60s, never appeared at their 2007 trial or sentencing.
In protest, the Browns barricaded themselves in their home during the summer and fall of 2007. The pair received support while issuing militant and threatening statements, and stockpiling weapons and explosives.
The Brown's were eventually charged with weapons offenses after their arrest in October 2007, when law enforcement discovered pipe bombs, improvised explosive devices made of gun powder cans with nails and screws taped to the outside, and a large cache of handguns and rifles that included .50-caliber rifles.
The FBI says sovereign citizens often produce documents that contain peculiar or out-of-ordinary language.
In some cases, they may even speak their own language or will write only in certain colors, such as in red crayon.
Other indicators that are used to help identify these individuals, law enforcement officials say are references to the Bible, the Constitution of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and treaties with foreign governments.
Personal names spelled in all capital letters or interspersed with colons such as JOHN SMITH or Smith: John are also indicators along with signatures followed by the words “under duress,” “Sovereign Living Soul” or SLS, the copyright symbol ©, personal seals, stamps, and thumb prints in red ink, as well as the words, “accepted for value”.
Officials say they also may carry fraudulent drivers’ licenses to indicate their view that law enforcement does not have the authority to stop their vehicle.
They may even write “No Liability Accepted” above their signature on the license to signify they do not accept it as a legitimate identification document.