A Florida appeals court on Wednesday held that unregulated Bitcoin sales can be prosecuted.
This decisions comes three years after a Miami-Dade circuit judge threw out the felony charges brought against Michell Espinoza, a web designer accused of selling $1,500 worth of bitcoins to undercover detectives.
Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled that Espinoza could not be charged with laundering money because Bitcoin is not currency. Third District Court of Appeal Judge Norma Lindsey disagreed. She wrote:
The State of Florida appeals the trial court’s order granting Michell Espinoza’s motion to dismiss the information charging him with three counts. In Count 1, the State charged Espinoza with unlawfully engaging in the business of a money transmitter and/or a payment instrument seller without being registered with the State of Florida in violation of section 560.125, Florida Statutes (2013), and, in Counts 2 and 3, with money laundering in violation of section 896.101, Florida Statutes (2014). The trial court erred in dismissing Count 1 because Espinoza acted as both a money transmitter and a payment instrument seller and, as such, was required to register with the State of Florida as a money services business.
Charges against Espinoza have been reinstated, but no trial date has been set.