Florida Court Reinstates Charges For Unregistered Sale Of Bitcoin

According to reports published by local media Miami Herald, on 30th January, a United States appellate court in the state of Florida has reinstated charges against a man who sold unregistered Bitcoins (BTC) to police officer who was undercover.

The report says that the Third District Court of Appeal has now passed a judgement, which says that the judge who dismissed charges against the defendant, Michell Espinoza, was wrong.

Espinoza is a website designer who was charged with the crime of allegedly transmitting and laundering $1,500 worth of BTC without a valid money transmitter license.

The defense at the initial trial in a Miami-Dade circuit court, posed the argument that since Bitcoin is not considered money under Florida law, a license is not required. The judge subsequently had ruled that Bitcoin is not money, and its sale unintentionally for illegal purposes does not constitute money laundering, further stating that BTC is just “poker chips that people are willing to buy from you.”

In spite of the scenario, the appellate court ruled that Espinoza had indeed been partaking in unlicensed money transmitting. He had neither registered with Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation nor complied with anti-money laundering regulation (AML). The court stated,

“Bitcoins-for-cash business requires him to register as a payment instrument seller and money transmitter.”

Additionally the court added that the defendant was not “merely selling his own personal bitcoins, he was marketing a business.” Though felony charges against Espinoza have reportedly been reinstated, no trial date has been set yet.

Charless Evans, a Barry University economics professor who had been a defense witness, and he reportedly disagrees with the decision. He is of the opinion that the decision is part of a broader trend towards the regulation of cryptocurrencies. He said,

“The Wild West days are over. The regulators and prosecutors are trying to bring order to all the chaos — and this is part of the process.”