Michigan Votes On Bill Seeking To Add Cryptocurrencies In State’s Criminal Laws
The Michigan House of Representatives has voted on the HB402 bill, whose provisions include embedding illicit use of cryptocurrencies into the state’s criminal justice law.
The bill seeks to introduce various amendments to the State’s penal code, including a stipulation that makes it criminal to use cryptocurrencies to commit money laundering, credit card fraud, embezzlement, and other financial transactions that emanate from criminal offenses.
The legislature also pronounced it illegal for anyone to collect (receive as a reward) any currency, be it cryptocurrency or fiat, for fighting, baiting or shooting of any given animal.
Speaking to Detroit News, State Rep. Ryan Berman said that the bill arose out of a case involving a dogfighting ring. The legislator noted that although authorities prosecuted the said organizer, nothing happened to the individual participants.
According to Rep. Berman, authorities were not able to charge these people as they had participated by placing their bets in cryptocurrency, a scenario that was complicated more by the lack of a law that made it illegal to do so.
He further observed that the bill provided an opportunity to update the current criminal codes, whose institution can be dated back to the early 1990s.
Berman added that as digital currency had become “a part of our economy” and thus society, the time had come for it to be incorporated within the law.
The legislation also goes on to explain what cryptocurrency is, referring to it is a digital or virtual currency whose generation is regulated via the use of cryptography protocols. The encryption techniques are also used in network security and for verifying financial transactions that occur outside the control of any Central Bank.
The bill now moves to the State Senate for more considerations after the Michigan Legislature voted 108-1.
In June 2018, the state’s legislature introduced two House bills- 6257 and 6258- that classified any kind of blockchain data as a criminal offense.
HB 6257 lists potential crime in this case as including incorrect record alteration, forgery, and counterfeiting of public records with the intent of causing injury or to defraud another party. The offender will face felony charges that could see those convicted face up to 14 years in prison.
The second bill, HB 6258, amends the States’ current penal code to add the definition of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) to that of cryptocurrency.
The two bills were forwarded to the Senate Judiciary Committee by late last year, but no action so far has been taken.
Michigan, alongside Ohio, Wyoming, and Colorado, are some of the U.S. states whose lawmakers have actively pursued legislative policies related to crypto and blockchain.
Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile assets and are very risky investments. Do your research and consult an investment professional before investing. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. Never borrow money to invest in cryptocurrencies.