It’s a scenario that could only come up in the 21st century: the debate over whether someone can post bail with cryptocurrency. In a much-debated California case in 2018, the initial answer was yes. However, the courts backpedaled, deciding that posting bail with Bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrency is a no-go.
It all started with Martin Marisch, who was arrested for hacking into the computer systems of Electronic Arts, a video game development company. Marisch allegedly gained access to customer records and stole over $300,000 of in-game items. The federal court set his bail for the equivalent of $750,000 to be paid in the cryptocurrency of Marisch’s choice.
The biggest issue with the federal court’s order was that this had never been done before, so the court had no precedent for accepting cryptocurrency. They first had to set up accounts to receive the cryptocurrency, which caused internal disagreements regarding structuring transactions. The FBI also put up a fight regarding receiving the funds, citing liability issues. Specifically, they were concerned about the dramatically fluctuating value of cryptocurrency.
Due to these challenges, the federal court decided to reverse the order to post bail in cryptocurrency. The judge ordered Marisch to convert his cryptocurrency into $750,000 fiat. There were problems with this, too; Marisch used a lesser-known cryptocurrency, and trading it in could have negatively affected the market. As a result, the judge finally ordered him to convert $200,000 worth of his tokens to pay for court costs and restitution.
The Future of Cryptocurrency and Bail
Currently, cryptocurrency is still too volatile for the courts to accept as bail. Hopefully, as it stabilizes, gains traction, and becomes less associated with illegal activity, it will make the process of posting bail easier for many people. Until then, cash reigns supreme.
However, most people don’t have access to the large sums of cash that courts request. That’s where bail bond agents come in: by paying a bail bond agent a fraction of the total bail amount, plus collateral, the agent will help secure the defendant’s release from jail. If you or a family member has been charged with a crime, A-Affordable Bail Bonds can help. We provide bail bonds to help people get out of jails across Washington. We’re available 24/7 to provide professional, discreet service to you and your family. Call us today at 1-800-695-8950 to learn more.