Michigan Seeks to Add Crypto to Criminal Statutes

On 12 June, the Michigan State Legislature received three bills aimed at providing legal definitions of cryptocurrency and distributed ledgers, according to ETH News.

Since then, a fourth bill has been introduced adding “cryptocurrency” and “distributed ledger technology” to the list of “financial transaction devices”, of which theft or fraudulent possession are felonies.

Michigan’s attempt to introduce the new legation is a landmark development in US states’ approaches to mainstreaming aspects of blockchain into the legal system. If the bills pass, they will give further credibility to crypto space by defining “distributed ledgers” and “cryptocurrency” in its criminal statutes. Crimes committed using these new technologies would be punished just as they would be if committed with paper or fiat currency.

Other states have added similar definitions to their statutes, but these have been simply for clarification purposes to rule that distributed ledgers can be legally binding contracts.

If Michigan’s bills become legislation, the penal code would be amended relating to fraud and forgery of documents, granting distributed ledgers the same status as physical documents, resulting in a maximum 14-year prison sentence for those convicted of fraud under the law.

A result of other bills included within the four proposed by State Legislature grants cryptocurrency the same status as physical money. One of the bills explain the new criteria:

“‘Cryptocurrency’ means digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, and that operates independently of a central bank… ‘Money or personal property’ includes cryptocurrency.”

While the US Federal Government is considering what to do about blockchain, so far it has chosen to leave this to individual states. However, it does have the option to exercise its right to impose federal blockchain laws. That said, it has not yet delivered any draft legislation on the subject, writes the Enterprise Times.

Nebraska, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and Vermont, along with Maine, Hawaii, Illinois, and North Dakota are some of the many US states notably either in the process of presenting bills, enacting legislation or actively utilizing blockchain in state legislation.

 

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