Earlier this year, I was surprised by the state police with an arrest for “unsworn falsification” and “prohibitions”. Essentially, they were charging me with two class A misdemeanors for filling out their driver’s license application incorrectly. As it turns out, had I filled it out the same way two days prior, it would have been completely legal. Despite referring to me as a “customer”, they treated me like a criminal rather than simply helping me correct the mistake, as any actual business would who cares about their customers.
They alleged I used a “false” name, my given name of Ian Bernard, to apply for their license when I apparently should have used my now “legal” name of Ian Freeman. At no point until my arrest was I given any indication that this was illegal. The ladies at the DMV were aware of my use of both names, and happily processed the application. I attempted to make it clear during the trial that I did not knowingly use a false name, as I don’t consider my given name to be false, nor was I attempting to defraud anyone. No one has claimed I’ve defrauded them, ever. I honor my word, regardless of the name I use.
None of that mattered in the decision that came by mail after the trial, which found me guilty on both counts. Sentencing is still to come, but I’m facing as much as two years in prison. The last time I was in jail was 2011 for the civil disobedience of blocking a police car when they were attempting to arrest a peaceful woman for drinking alcohol in Central Square. In that case I was sentenced to 90 days in jail and nine more months suspended for two years. Will judge Burke decide that these ID “crimes”, which have no victim, deserve a more serious punishment than civil disobedience? Stay tuned here to Free Keene to find out.
Meanwhile, here’s the trial video along with my just-filed motion to reconsider the decision.