Money laundering is a serious criminal offense in Florida, and a new law could make it possible to be convicted of money laundering without actually making use of legal currency. Bitcoins, a type of digital currency, can be used by anyone, anonymously, and are not regulated by any governing body. As such, they have attracted much attention in recent years for their use in criminal activity. The new law would include Bitcoins and other virtual currency to Florida’s Money Laundering Act as mediums of “exchange in electronic or digital format that is not a coin or currency of the United States or any other country.” The bill, which passed through the house and senate, is awaiting approval from the governor, Rick Scott, before it becomes law, according to the Miami Herald.
Proponents and Opponents of the Bill
According to House Representative Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, “Cyber criminals have taken advantage of our antiquated laws for too long. Bitcoin bypasses the traditional banking system, and our state’s laws simply had not caught up to the upsurge in criminality in the world of cyber currency.” The bill was formulated in the aftermath of a high-profile case last year, when a Miami Judge threw out a case against a man who had been accused of selling $1,500 in Bitcoins to another party that was allegedly going to use the funds to purchase stolen credit card numbers. Some argue that Bitcoins are further enabling and aiding human trafficking, the sale of illegal narcotics, and prostitution. However, not everyone is applauding lawmaker’s decision regarding the criminalization of online currency for illegal purposes. Economist Charles Evans, said that, “Before long, we might see coat checks, tickets to Disney World, and discount coupons regulated as money in Florida.” He, and others, maintain that Bitcoins are not real currency and amount to nothing more than poker chips that are used in places where banking systems are weak.
Charges You Could be Facing
“Knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity,” will result in a money laundering charge in Florida, as per Florida statute 896.101. The following describes the degrees of felony charges associated with money laundering:
- Third degree felony charge: Financial transactions over $300 but under $20,000 in a 12-month period;
- Second degree felony charge: Financial transactions over $20,000 but under $100,000 in a 12-month period; and
- First degree felony charge: Financial transactions over $100,000 in a 12-month period.
In addition to the felony charges, a money laundering conviction could mean being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars as well.
Call a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with money laundering or any other crime, the West Palm Beach attorneys of the Skier Law Firm are here to provide experienced legal assistance. Give us a call today at (561) 220-3355 for immediate help.