Allegations of money laundering are taken extremely seriously in the United States. Because money laundering typically involves numerous players and is often related to organized crime, these types of criminal offenses are aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the federal government. Any person arrested for or accused of money laundering-related crimes in California may be charged in the federal court system and could be exposed to a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines upon conviction, not to mention restitution, forfeiture and other significant consequences.
If you have been accused of committing crimes related to money laundering, or if you are under investigation for a federal offense, our top-rated criminal defense law firm, Federal Defense Lawyers, can help. Our dedicated legal team has years of experience defending clients against money laundering charges and other federal charges and we can use that expertise to fight for you. Contact our money laundering defense attorneys today so we can examine the facts of your case and inform you of your rights and legal options.
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is a type of white-collar crime generally defined as the illegal act of disguising the amount, source or destination of money by passing it through a complex sequence of commercial transactions or banking transfers.
The federal statute that applies to money laundering crimes in the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 1956, contains a fairly broad definition of money laundering, describing it as the act of knowingly engaging, or attempting to engage, in financial transactions that involve proceeds from a specified unlawful activity. Whether the money is obtained through fraud, embezzlement, drug trafficking or some other illegal activity, the aim of money laundering is to return the “clean” money to the launderer in an indirect way and make it look like it was earned legitimately.
Three Stages of Money Laundering
Typically, the process of money laundering will involve three stages – placement, layering and integration. Placement is the stage where the proceeds from criminal activity are introduced into the legitimate financial system. Layering then disguises or conceals the source, ownership, location, nature or control of the money through a series of financial transactions. In the last stage of the money laundering process – integration – the laundered money is then withdrawn from the legitimate account to be used for any purpose as normal business earnings.
The main purpose of money laundering is to allow individuals in possession of the proceeds of a crime to use the illicit money without it being traced back to the crime. Unfortunately, money launderers are sometimes caught in the act, and when they are, they typically face dire consequences. Any person convicted of money laundering in federal court can be sentenced to prison for up to 20 years and/or ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Link Between Money Laundering and Other Federal Crimes
Money laundering is a complicated crime and it usually involves a network of people. In a typical scenario, a federal money laundering investigation may involve thousands of financial documents, multiple defendants and complex monetary transactions in both local and foreign accounts. Given the scope of most money laundering schemes, the crime of money laundering is often connected to other federal offenses.
For instance, it is not uncommon for individuals targeted by a federal money laundering investigation to also face allegations of drug trafficking, bank fraud, credit card fraud, securities fraud, mortgage fraud or other fraud offenses. If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of money laundering or any other related federal crime, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide the best defense against your charges.
Potential Penalties for Money laundering Charges
Under the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, money laundering is considered a federal offense, one that is vigorously prosecuted by the federal government. According to the federal money laundering statute (18 U.S.C. § 1956), a conviction for money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine not exceeding $500,000 or twice the amount of money that was laundered, whichever amount is higher. Under its companion statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1957, any person facing charges of spending or depositing over $10,000 of the proceeds from the criminal activity may be fined or imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both.
On top of a federal prison sentence and significant fines, any person facing money laundering charges in federal court may be subject to property seizure or forfeiture. That means the government can take control of any assets, cash or other property gained through illegal money laundering activity. These stiff penalties will be imposed by the court in addition to the penalties for any other federal crimes committed in connection with the money laundering.
That is why it is critical to retain the services of a knowledgeable and competent defense attorney if you are facing charges related to money laundering or any other federal offense in California. A capable defense lawyer will go over every aspect of your case with you, evaluate your situation and determine the most effective defenses to pursue.
Possible Defenses for Money laundering Charges
Being arrested for money laundering is a stressful enough experience, but being charged and convicted in federal court can change the course of your entire life. That being said, it is important to remember that being accused of money laundering does not necessarily mean you will be found guilty and incarcerated.
Just like any state case, the burden of proof in a federal money laundering case lies with the prosecutor. That means the prosecution must prove each element of the money laundering crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to get a conviction. In other words, the prosecutor must show the following:
• You conducted or attempted to conduct a financial transaction, which affected interstate commerce,
• You conducted the financial transaction with the proceeds of specified unlawful activity,
• You knew the transaction involved the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, and
• You intended to promote the carrying on of the specified unlawful activity.
In your defense, your federal attorney may argue that you acted under duress or that there is insufficient evidence to warrant a conviction. Your attorney may also present evidence indicating that you were unaware of the unlawful activity or that you lacked the intent to commit a crime. The key to obtaining a successful outcome in a money laundering case or any other federal case is to successfully challenge the prosecution’s case by introducing evidence that raises doubts about your guilt.
That is why it is necessary to enlist the services of an experienced money laundering defense attorney. The right defense lawyer will have an in-depth understanding of federal law and a proven track record of success defending clients charged with white-collar crimes such as money laundering. A good criminal defense attorney can advise you of your legal options and work with you to craft a winning defense that challenges whatever evidence the prosecution has against you.
How Can a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Help?
Money laundering crimes often involve multiple conspirators and a series of complex financial transactions intended to conceal illegally-obtained money. Because of their complex nature, money laundering cases may be investigated by various federal agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, IRS and ATF, making allegations of money laundering extremely serious. What most people don’t realize is that they can be under investigation for money laundering crimes without even knowing it.
In complex cases, the federal government may conduct a money laundering investigation for months or even years before filing charges. At this point, the prosecution will have gathered a great deal of evidence against you, which puts you in a difficult position. Regardless of the circumstances of your case, if you are under investigation for money laundering or if you have already been arrested, you will want to consult an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights and legal options. Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers has a team of trial-tested lawyers with years of experience defending clients against white-collar crimes. Our defense attorneys understand the complicated nature of this type of criminal charge and we can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.
Contact the Top-Rated Defense Team at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers
Being a federal offense, the legal consequences of a money laundering conviction are far-reaching and long-lasting. If you are facing charges of money laundering in federal court, you will want to work with a skilled criminal defense lawyer to reduce your risk of a conviction. At Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers, our accomplished attorneys have achieved favorable results for many clients faced with federal charges like money laundering and fraud and we can help you, too.
Contact our firm as soon as possible to schedule a free, confidential consultation. We will review the facts of your case and the circumstances surrounding your arrest, answer any questions you have about your defense, and determine which legal strategy gives you the best chance of success. If you choose Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers to represent you in federal court, we will handle all aspects of your case with the compassion, professionalism and dedication you deserve.