Tuesday, 3 April 2018

BITCOIN, EXPLAINED

 

Over 400 years ago Turkish traders introduced the brightly colored Tulip flower to the Dutch and all the Germanic people wanted to get their hands on this “rare” commodity. The spark of Tulip mania or as the Dutch refer to as, “tulpenmanie,” is very similar to today’s Bitcoin rage: they’re novel, a limited supply, and potential for great wealth. During this era, the tulips contracted a “virus” called mosaic which didn’t kill or damage the tulip population per-say; but acted as a catalyst transforming their petals into flame-like colors. The color patterns varied which increased the rarity of an already unique flower. In turn, the tulips which were already selling at a premium began to rise according to the mosaic virus’s alterations and soon, everyone began to grow and deal in tulip bulbs in hopes to acquire great wealth. In essence, they were speculating on the tulip market which was believed to have no limits. The market-moving, bulb-buyers began to fill up inventories for the growing season which further depleted supply and increased the scarcity and demand. Soon, prices were rising so fast that people were trading their land, life savings, and anything else they could liquidate to get their hands on more tulip bulbs. Their dreams were not unwarranted as the originally overpriced tulips enjoyed a twenty-fold increase in value….in one month!… Sound familiar?

Bitcoin is a modern-day phenomenon championing to be “the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen.” Whether it is the public’s distrust of the banking industry after what occurred in 2008 or the United States’ government’s reckless spending habits, many believe and are hoping that digital, cryptocurrency remedies these systemic, ever-lingering problems. Just like the Dutch in the 1500’s, speculators are buying up Bitcoin to strike it rich; and like the Dutch, the numbers support their belief. Let this statistic marinade for a bit: If you were to make a $1,000 investment in Bitcoin in July 2010, that $1,000 would be worth more than $258 million in January 2018! In 2017 alone, Bitcoin has enjoyed gains exceeding 1,600%.

Users of the Bitcoin network use “Bitcoins,” a form of “cryptocurrency,” which in contrast to traditional forms of currency, Bitcoins are not issued by any government or central banking authority like the federal reserve. Instead Bitcoin’s are created by ‘mining;’ a process where ‘miners’ receive transaction fees and newly minted Bitcoins (fractions of Bitcoin) in return for verifying and recording payments on a public ledger called a “blockchain.” This blockchain keeps track of every bitcoin created and the person who owns it. Theoretically, this prevents hyperinflation as more Bitcoins cannot be created out of thin air like the US treasury.

Bitcoin advocates campaign the possibility that, “Bitcoin will be the future of currency,” while skeptics denounce cryptocurrencies making propositions such as, “But what is a bitcoin worth? You can’t buy things with it in the regular marketplace and has no inherent value.” While both arguments may have merit, it is undeniable the United States Government recognizes Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

For federal income tax purposes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treats bitcoins as property and advises taxpayers that “general tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.”(IRS Notice 2014-21) In the criminal sector, Bitcoin is more akin to a currency which the government prosecute an individual for using cryptocurrency for money laundering. By way of example, in United States v. Ulbricht, 31 F. Supp. 3d 540 (S.D.N.Y. 2014), the “dark-web” owner of “Silk Road” whereby people from all over the world used the website as a channel or exchange to purchase illegal drugs online. Ulbricht was indicted for among other things, a money laundering conspiracy pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1956 stating in part, “Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, conducts or attempts to conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity.” A necessary component of such a claim is the existence of a financial transaction. The Ulbricht Court interpreted the terms “financial transaction” and “monetary instrument” finding that “one can money launder using Bitcoin.” Moreover, the court stated:

Bitcoins can be either used directly to pay for certain things or can act as a medium of exchange and be converted into a currency which can pay for things. Indeed, the only value for Bitcoin lies in its ability to pay for things--it is digital and has no earthly form; it cannot be put on a shelf and looked at or collected in a nice display case. Its form is digital–bits and bytes that together constitute something of value. And they may be bought and sold using legal tender. Sellers using Silk Road are not alleged to have given their narcotics and malicious software away for free– they are alleged to have sold them. The money laundering statute is broad enough to encompass use of Bitcoins in financial transactions. Any other reading would–in light of Bitcoins’ sole raison d’etre–be nonsensical.”

Another criminal example can be seen in, United States v. Murgio, 209 F. Supp. 3d 698 (S.D.N.Y. 2016). There, Defendants were charged with the operation of an unlicensed bitcoin exchange in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1960 which criminalizes the operation of unlicensed money transferring businesses. The statute defines “money transferring” to include the transfer of “funds on behalf of the public by any and all means.” Notably, the Murgio Court concluded that Bitcoins are indeed funds and the Defendants could be prosecuted accordingly.

Some Florida state courts, however, have interpreted Bitcoin differently found that Bitcoins are not currency or monetary instruments. In State of Florida v. Michell Abner Espinoza out of the 11th Circuit in Miami-Dade County, a defendant was charged with unlawfully engaging in a “money services business” and two counts of money laundering. The court ultimately dismissed the State’s charging document (“information”) and held that Bitcoins lack fundamental or inherent traits of money or currency. The court stated that Bitcoin may have some attributes in common with what we commonly refer to as money, but differ in many important aspects. “While Bitcoin can be exchanged for items of value, they are not a commonly used means of exchange. They are accepted by some but not by all merchants or service providers. The value of Bitcoin fluctuates wildly and has been estimated to be eighteen times greater than the U.S. dollar. Their high volatility is explained by scholars as due to their insufficient liquidity, the uncertainty of future value, and the lack of a stabilization mechanism. With such volatility, they have a limited ability to act as a store of value, another important attribute of money. Bitcoin is a decentralized system. It does not have any central authority, such as a central reserve, and Bitcoins are not backed by anything. They are certainly not tangible wealth and cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars. This Court is not an expert in economics, however, it is very clear, even to someone with limited knowledge in the area, that Bitcoin has a long way to go before it is the equivalent of money. The Florida Legislature may choose to adopt statutes regulating virtual currency in the future. At this time, however, attempting to fit the sale of Bitcoin into a statutory scheme regulating money services businesses is like fitting a square peg in a round hole.”

Whether you are a skeptic or champion of Bitcoin, it is irrefutable that given the amount of government-backed currency invested or traded for these, “imaginary coins,” both civil and criminal legal issues will arise across various legal fields, from fraudulent transfers in divorce and bankruptcy to criminal cases of money laundering. With blockchain based cryptocurrency reaching an 800 billion market-cap in 2018, some investors have ‘struck oil.’ Whether Bitcoin is the next bubble to burst like “tulip mania,” .com, or housing crisis is to be determined; however, what is certain is that new legal issues are on the horizon in both the Civil and Criminal Courts.

CONTACT:
Meldon Law
121 NW 3rd St
Ocala, FL 34475
Phone: (352) 629-5700
Fax: (352) 373-8400
Toll Free: (888) 458-1482
Email: jmeldon@meldonlaw.com

Friday, 9 March 2018

KNOW THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A FLORIDA DUI


If you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you will be held in jail for up to eight hours until officers believe you are no longer impaired. Often, you will leave jail with a court date for you first hearing regarding DUI charges. In other situations, however, you may leave jail with no information and wonder whether you will be charged with an offense at all. It’s important to know that authorities have a specific amount of time in which to charge you with a crime, called the “statute of limitations.” Until the statute of limitations for your particular offense is up, you can still receive charges and a summons to court in the mail.

A South Florida woman who is accused of killing an off-duty Fort Lauderdale police officer while driving drunk recently learned how long it can take to be charged. The accident in question happened in August of 2016 and the woman lived and worked as usual for over a year. In October of 2017, however, she was arrested and charged with multiple offenses regarding the accident including DUI manslaughter. Her case is pending.

If you are released from jail without any indication of charges or a court date, do not think think you got off scot-free. The is a good chance you will receive a summons in the mail and you should be prepared. You should discuss any DUI arrest with an experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.

TIME LIMITS FOR DUI CHARGES

Like any type of legal case, the statutes of limitations for filing a criminal complaint in Florida varies depending on the type of case – specifically, the severity and nature of the crime. For example, the following are some time limits for criminal charges in Florida:

First-degree misdemeanor = Two years
Felonies (other than first-degree) = Three years
First-degree felonies = Four years
Felonies that resulted in the death of another person = No time limit

A DUI charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on several factors including whether you had prior DUI convictions on your record, whether you caused serious injury, and more. For a first offense, the prosecutor will generally have two years to charge you. In the above-mentioned case, there would have been no statute of limitations because the alleged offense involved a fatal accident.

Even if you are not immediately charged with DUI, your license can still be suspended by the Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles. This administrative license suspension will need to be handled separately from any criminal case and there are strict time limits to fight the suspension, so you should always call a skilled defense attorney right away after an arrest.


At Meldon Law, we handle all aspects of cases for clients who have been accused of DUI. We can start building your defense from the moment of your arrest, so please do not wait to call our Ft. Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers at 888-441-2213 or contact us online.

CONTACT:
Meldon Law
121 NW 3rd St
Ocala, FL 34475
Phone: (352) 629-5700
Fax: (352) 373-8400
Toll Free: (888) 458-1482
Email: jmeldon@meldonlaw.com
Website: http://www.meldonlaw.com/offices/personal-injury-dui-lawyers-in-ocala-fl/
Blog URL: https://www.meldonlaw.com/blog/know-statute-limitations-florida-dui/

Sunday, 25 February 2018

SINGLE-CAR CRASHES – NOT ALWAYS THE DRIVER’S FAULT


There was a grisly scene on Florida’s Turnpike in nearby Lauderhill at 5:00 a.m. on January 14th. Emergency crews responded to a crash report and had to remove the roof of the vehicle to free the driver trapped inside. The driver was then taken by helicopter to Broward Health Medical Center and reports indicated the unidentified driver was “seriously hurt.”
Authorities did not yet report a suspected cause of the single-car crash but in these situations, it is all too easy to assume that the driver was somehow at fault as no other vehicles were involved. However, in many single-car crashes, another party is to blame and it requires some investigation to determine liability for the crash.

OUTSIDE CAUSES OF SINGLE-VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

 

Whether someone crashes a car, truck, motorcycle, or even a bicycle, determining the cause of the single-vehicle accident can be more complicated than you may believe. The following are some outside factors that may cause someone to crash:

  • Road hazards – If a driver suddenly hits a large pothole or another hazard in the road, it can cause them to lose control of their vehicle and crash. This is a particular risk for lighter vehicles such as motorcycles or bicycles. Similarly, if a road was designed poorly, had an improper speed limit for certain turns, or did not have the necessary warnings signs for potential risks, a driver can crash if they are unknowingly going to fast or are unaware of hazards.
  • Vehicle malfunctions – If the brakes, tires, or other critical vehicle parts suddenly malfunction, a driver can also lose control. Such malfunctions often occur because a manufacturer sold a defective vehicle part in the first place.
  • Other drivers – Just because another driver does not crash does not mean that they were not involved in causing the accident. Drivers can run others off the road or cause another driver to suddenly swerve and thereby lose control. In many cases, the driver who acted negligently may not even realize they caused a crash and may simply keep driving, which often means they will not be identified.

The major issue after a single-car crash is how an injured accident victim will obtain financial recovery for their medical bills and other losses. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your best options based on what happened, which may include:

  • A claim with your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance
  • A claim with your uninsured motorist insurance
  • Filing a legal claim against the city or state agency responsible that neglected roadway maintenance
  • Filing a products liability claim against a negligent manufacturer that sold a defective vehicle part

FIND OUT HOW A FORT LAUDERDALE CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY CAN HELP YOU


While single-car accident cases can be complex, it is possible for injured drivers to receive compensation for their injuries and losses. At Meldon Law, we handle all types of car accident cases and can advise you of your rights and legal options. Please call 888-447-4429 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with a Ft. Lauderdale car accident lawyer today.

CONTACT:
Meldon Law
121 NW 3rd St
Ocala, FL 34475
Phone: (352) 629-5700
Fax: (352) 373-8400
Toll Free: (888) 458-1482







Thursday, 27 July 2017

OCALA PERSONAL INJURY & DUI LAW FIRM


At Meldon Law, we are dedicated to use our experience, resources, and time to fight for Justice for victims of accidents and the rights of individuals charged with DUI and other criminal offenses.

Most Florida accident victims and those arrested for DUI want their questions answered and their options explained to them with respect, understanding, and in terms they can understand. My dedicated and innovative team of experienced accident attorneys and criminal defense attorneys and I, Jeffrey Meldon, do just that. In addition, we add the personal attention that any individual who has been seriously injured deserves. Feel free to contact us and find out how we can help you regain your peace of mind and get you started on the right track towards justice and recovery.

At Meldon Law, our car accident lawyers have helped many injured victims in and around Ocala and we can help you recover for your injuries. If you would like to discuss your car accident, please do not hesitate to contact our skilled legal team today. At Meldon Law in Ocala, our personalized and committed approach to every case helps us best represent the rights and interests of our injured car accident clients. We understand how significantly your injury can affect your life and know that the last thing you need is added stress from your financial losses or legal case. Our car accident attorneys will handle every step of your claim so that you can focus on your physical and emotional well-being.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Meldon Law in Ocala are committed to helping victims of accidental injuries recover for their losses whenever they can. If you would like to learn about your legal rights following a personal injury, please call our office today to discuss your specific situation with an experienced member of our legal team.

The attorneys at Meldon Law know that you have many different options when it comes to hiring an attorney to defend against your DUI charges. For this reason, we always strive to stand out from the rest by providing the highest quality of defense representation possible. It is important to realize that not every criminal defense lawyer is familiar with DUI defense, so you should always seek assistance from a lawyer who has specific experience handling DUI cases. Our team of attorneys have six decades of combined experience defending against DUI charges in and around Ocala and you can count on us to dedicate all necessary resources to helping you.

PRACTICE AREAS:
Ocala Personal Injury Lawyers
Ocala DUI Attorneys
Ocala Car Accident Law Firm

CONTACT:
Meldon Law
121 NW 3rd St
Ocala, FL 34475
Phone: (352) 629-5700
Fax: (352) 373-8400
Toll Free: (888) 458-1482
Email: jmeldon@meldonlaw.com

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