Federal Money Laundering Attorneys
You may have heard the term “money laundering: before. It is common terminology used in TV crime dramas in relation to drug conspiracies or major drug traffickers. However, the federal offense of money laundering refers to any sort of financial maneuvering that attempts to hide the source of illicitly obtained money.
AS defined by the FBI, “money laundering is the process by which criminals conceal or disguise their proceeds and make them appear to have come from legitimate sources.” Whether you or a loved one finds themselves under investigation for participating in a money laundering scheme, or you or a loved one has already been arrested on these charges, you need to get in touch with an experienced federal crimes attorney as soon as possible.
What is Money Laundering?
The media attention that this crime has attracted has most people believing that money laundering is a way for drug dealers to conceal the source of their illicit activities. This is a fact, and it is generally accomplished via a “front business.” For example, a drug dealer may own a restaurant and, to conceal the source of the cash made from drug dealing, the restaurant owner adds extra profits on the business’s accounts. In other words, the restaurant may have brought in only $1,000 in a week through normal activities, but the money launderer writes that the restaurant made $4,000 on paper. Thus, the extra $3,000 earned from drug dealing has been “cleaned up” and it appears to be a legitimate income.
It is critical to remember that money laundering is not a tool for drug dealers, traffickers, and drug conspiracies alone. Some other offences that require money laundering often include:
- Health care fraud
- Human trafficking
- Complex financial crimes
- International and domestic public corruption
- Narcotics trafficking
On top of that, criminals employ more than just small businesses to launder money. Other vehicles through which criminals launder their funds include:
- Third party service providers
- Virtual currency
- Financial institutions
- International trade
- Real estate
- Money Laundering as a Federal Crime
- Precious metals
Both states and the federal government law enforcement target money laundering operations. Even though state governments do aggressively investigate and prosecute individuals who are suspected of money laundering, the federal government will get involved when the alleged offenses cross state or international lines, or when large-scale criminal dealings are taking place. The federal penal statutes that cover money laundering include:
- Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956
- Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957
Pursuant to these laws, a federal court can find a defendant guilty of money laundering if any of the following are true:
- The defendant knowingly represented the proceeds from any unlawful act as lawful and attempted to carry out any financial transaction with said proceeds, with the intention of promoting such unlawful activity, concealing the nature of the proceeds, or avoiding reporting requirements.
- The defendant transported, transmitted, or transferred any monetary instruments or funds throughout the United States to promote unlawful activity, hide the nature of criminal proceeds or evade financial reporting requirements.
- The defendant made false representations about criminal proceeds for the purpose of affecting any of the outcomes above, including hiding the nature of criminal proceeds, avoiding reporting requirements, or promoting unlawful activities.
The federal consequences for a money laundering charge often rely upon the specifics of the crime. Nevertheless, convicted offenders may be facing large fines and a potential jail term. Fines can go up to $500,000 or decided on the basis of the value of the property involved in the scheme. Incarceration for money laundering can go up to 20 years.
Potential Defenses for a Money Laundering Charge
As is clear in the section above, there are a number of elements that the federal prosecution must demonstrate in order to convict the defendant. Moreover, since money laundering is known as a specific intent crime, your federal crimes defense lawyer can utilize a range of specific intent defenses, such as:
- There was an absence of intent to carry out a criminal act — You were not aware that the money obtained was illegal and there was no intent to commit money laundering.
- You were under duress — You were truly of the belief that you were in peril of immediate danger or harm if you didn’t cooperate in the crime.
- There is insufficient evidence — For money laundering charges, the prosecution has to trace the illicitly obtained funds to their origins. The prosecution needs to also demonstrate that an illegal activity occurred. If these two details are missing, then the defense can claim that the evidence is insufficient.
Money Laundering Laws, Charges, Statute of Limitations
Converting money that is acquired from illicit activities to appear lawful is called money laundering. The act of money laundering is illegally concealing the origins of money. Often, organized crime and drug traffickers engage in the act of money laundering.
For example, an illegal drug organization may use a lawful business to create a paper trail to disguise illegal money. Federal crimes such as racketeering, and conspiracy are associated with money laundering.
What Are The Money Laundering Laws?
Money laundering happens across the globe. It can be complex and intricate. There are money laundering laws governed by both the state and the federal government. Large-scale criminal activities are typically handled by federal money laundering laws and policies.
The reason the federal government governs large-scale money laundering conspiracies because they are usually attached to other offenses such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, and counterfeiting.
Typically, money laundering is charged in tandem with other financial crimes. if someone or an organization is convicted of money laundering, they can also be charged with bank fraud, drug offenses, RICO, tax evasion, or securities fraud.
Other federal charges that are connected to money laundering are credit card fraud, ID theft, mortgage fraud, and transaction reports.
Crimes & Charges Associated with Money Laundering
The following unlawful activities are crimes considered money laundering:
• Representing unlawful proceeds ass lawful. Conducting financial transactions with the unlawful proceeds to conceal the original unlawful nature of the proceeds. Avoiding required reporting
• The transferring or transporting of any funds in the U.S. to promote and encourage unlawful activity. Concealing the origin of criminal funds
• False representation of criminal funds to hide the identity of the funds. Concealing the origin and nature of the funds. Avoiding the required reporting of the funds
Any individual engaging in money laundering is required to be punished by law. This punishable offense can include the transfer of property, financial transactions, or the unlawful use of any financial institution to transfer proceeds.
Legal Punishments Connected to Money Laundering
The specifics of the crime determine the penalties associated with money laundering charges. In general, jail time and fines are the possible penalties if convicted of money laundering.
The fines connected to money laundering are not small. Some fines can average up to $500,000. Penalty fines are determined by the value of the funds or property involved in the money laundering case.
Prison sentencing for the conviction of money laundering can range up to 20-years. Normally, there is a combination of jail time and fines connected to a money laundering charge.
Every count of money laundering holds separate penalties. If someone performs one money laundering act each month for 6-months, that person will be charged with 6-counts of money laundering by the federal government.
Being charged for each count of money laundering is the determining factor that can lead to life in prison.
Sentencing Guidelines for Money Laundering
The United States Code provides a clear guideline for the required money laundering sentencing. The amount of money laundered and the overall time of committing the act of money laundering is what determines the final sentencing.
An act of federal money laundering can have a sentence of up to 20-years in jail. Also, a fine of up to $500,000 per count. So, if a person is convicted of 4-counts of money laundering, and sentenced to 15-years per count they are looking at 60-years in prison. In addition to jail time, that person can face millions in restitution.
Sometimes, the fines required for money laundering convictions can be twice the value of illegal funds involved in the case.
Money Laundering Statutes of Limitations
There is a statute of limitations against money laundering charges. The 18 United States Code sets in place the limitations associated with the conviction of money laundering. According to federal law, money laundering has a 5-year statute of limitations.
It takes a lot of research and investigation to prove an act(s) of money laundering. In a money laundering case, all money or property have to be traced back to the source. A strong defense can be built by tracing funds and identifying bank accounts and involved institutions.