Fact Check: Capitalized Name Does NOT Mean Individual Is A Corporation Rather Than A Person

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Capitalized Name Does NOT Mean Individual Is A Corporation Rather Than A Person Strawman Scam

Does an individual's name being completely capitalized on legal documents mean that they are actually considered a corporation, not an individual? No, that's not true: This assertion, often embraced by followers of the sovereign citizens movement, has no basis in fact. It's often used as a justification for the "strawman theory," which argues that an individual has two separate personas: one physical persona and one legal persona.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post on July 9, 2022. The post included a video titled "For information purposes." The video opened:

Driver's licenses, vehicle registrations, auto insurance forms, building permits, gun permits, work permits, tax filing documents, birth and death certificates, traffic citations and many other forms of documentation that were once believed to be absolutely necessary, only apply to persons, or corporations. Upon signing such a legal document, you are indirectly waiving your rights under the Constitution and lowering your status to that of a corporation that is created with the same exact name as you. The only way to reconcile your true name from the name of the corporation is to take notice that the corporation has its name in all capital letters. This is known as Capitis Diminutio Maxima.

The video goes on to claim that because several legal documents present an individual's name in capital letters, those legal documents are actually for a corporation, not the real, true individual.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

admirality law FB post.png

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Jul 13 14:18:57 2022 UTC)

The entire video is a hodgepodge of conspiracy theories used by the sovereign citizens movement, a loose group of people who generally believe that, because of imaginary legal loopholes, they are not beholden to federal law. The capital-letters-equals-corporation theory is a catalyst for the movement's "strawman theory," which posits that an individual has two personas. One of those personas is their physical, natural self, while the other -- the "strawman" -- is their legal persona, which is responsible for handling their debts, taxes and the like. Thus, a capitalized name on legal documents is the strawman, and not the natural person. Extreme followers of the strawman theory and similar conspiracy theories may use them to justify financial scams.

"Capitis Diminutio Maxima" is an idea based on capitis deminutio, a legal concept used in ancient Rome that referred to the diminishing of one's legal status. It certainly had nothing to do with the U.S. -- which was far in the future for ancient Rome -- or the capitalization of letters then, and it doesn't now.

The sovereign citizen movement has a history of misinterpreting or creating fraudulent legal standards. As for the strawman theory, it hasn't appeared to work in court.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to the sovereign citizens movement can be found here.

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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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