A local Florida Bitcoin seller recently saw all charges against him dismissed by a judge. That seemed rather strange, considering Michell Espinoza was under investigation for money laundering and unlicensed money transmission. However, the judge ruled. Bitcoin is not money. The state of Florida is now appealing that decision, and this case will drag on for quite some time.
Michell Espinoza Is Not Off The Hook Yet
Back in 2014, when Espinoza was arrested for money laundering and unlicensed money transmission using Bitcoin, the charges seemed pretty solid. Unfortunately for the government, the outcome was very different from what they had hoped. Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled Bitcoin is not money. Hence Espinoza did nothing illegal by definition of the law.
Pooler defended her decision by arguing how difficult it is to quantify Bitcoin these days. It is not money, a commodity, or currency. But at the same time, it presents a value that can be transferred to anyone in the world. Moreover, the charges against Espinoza were, in her words, “vaguely written”.She did not want to send a potentially innocent man to jail for a crime that is subject to more questions than answers.
Hardly anyone will be surprised to find out the state of California will appeal this verdict. What is rather interesting, however, is how the appeal will not deal with the issue of describing Bitcoin by any means. The State just wants to try their hand at getting a conviction through this appeal, albeit it is doubtful the outcome will be different.
Regulating Bitcoin becomes all the more necessary for the legal system. However, that does not mean decisions should be made lightly, as there is a fine line to walk between over-regulation and boosting innovation. Moreover, a policy as to how Bitcoin is labelled would be a good thing, albeit that outcome may differ from state to state in the US.
For the time being, it is anybody’s guess as to what the appeal case filings will entail exactly. More information will become available as this case makes its way through the mazes of the legal system once again. Depending on how everything is handled, the outcome may be positive for Bitcoin in the state of Florida.
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