Florida Files Appeal After Charges Against Bitcoin Seller Dismissed

The state of Florida has appealed a recent court decision that saw a judge rule bitcoin isn't money.

AccessTimeIconAug 22, 2016 at 9:35 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:27 p.m. UTC

The state of Florida has appealed a recent court decision that saw a judge dismiss charges against a local bitcoin seller.

The news marks the latest twist in Florida v Michell Espinoza, a case filed in 2014 in which a Florida-based bitcoin seller was brought up on charges for unlicensed money transmission and money laundering.

The case is best known for a decision by Judge Teresa Mary Pooler in which she sided with Espinoza's attorneys when they argued that bitcoin doesn't qualify as money. She wrote in her decision at the time that she believes it remains difficult to "accurately define or describe bitcoin", while expressing hesitation about ruling against a defendant using statutes she described as "vaguely written".

Though the appeal won't deal with this issue, the move by the state to appeal the decision, some say, isn't terribly shocking.

Attorney Andrew Hinkes, who has written about the Espinoza ruling in the past, said he wasn't surprised by the news.

He told CoinDesk:

"The standard of review on appeal is de novo meaning that the appellate court will review the evidentiary record made before the trial court and rule on evidence and matters of law without regard to the trial court’s rulings. Thus, the appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal is basically a 'second bite at the apple' for the State."

Hinkes went on to argue that the situation illustrates the potential pitfalls of a state-by-state approach to regulating the technology, whereby each state could develop conflicting rules for industry firms.

"This appeal may provide needed clarity as to Florida’s laws, or simplify issues for the legislature," he added.

No details about case filings have been made available to date, according to court records. A request for comment to the Florida Attorney General’s Office was not immediately returned.

Miami-Dade court via Shutterstock


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