Money laundering, which is the process of legitimizing profits from illegal activity, is a serious offense that carries strict penalties in federal court. Whether the offense involves embezzlement, theft, drug trafficking, securities fraud, or any other white-collar crime, making the proceeds from a criminal act appear legitimate is necessary for the long-term success of any criminal enterprise.
While hiding or washing money can be a difficult task, it is often more difficult to prove money laundering is taking place. This makes it extremely challenging for federal or state prosecutors to build a strong case against a defendant accused of laundering money.
Despite the challenges associated with prosecuting a money laundering case, investigators and prosecutors are more than eager to charge individuals they suspect of laundering money. Thus, it is imperative that you immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have the slightest inclination that you may be under investigation.
Understanding Money Laundering Charges
Money laundering is a white-collar crime that references the ways in which people attempt to conceal the source of money obtained illegally. It is a crime that is typically linked to other accompanying crimes and often leads to indictments on other offenses. People facing money laundering charges are also frequently charged with theft, drug trafficking, or a variety of fraud-related crimes.
However, the prospect of being faced with additional charges is not the only complication associated with a money laundering charge as money laundering cases typically take place in federal court. This requires a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer with expertise in handling federal court cases, which are vastly different than cases taking place in state courts.
Since the inception of the Money Laundering Act of 1986, it is a federal crime to knowingly participate in money laundering activities. The law explicitly addresses any financial transactions that attempt to conceal the control, ownership, or source of the money.
Although the federal money laundering law broadly defines these transactions, they generally refer to deposits, withdrawals, loans, money transfers, and other bank transactions. A transaction does not actually have to be completed in order for someone to be charged with money laundering as an attempt to make such a transaction is often enough for prosecutors to attempt an indictment.
Money laundering also does not have to involve bank transactions. Simply handing the money off to another person or company with the intent to conceal the source of the money or who it belongs to is also enough to be brought up on money laundering charges. Money laundering can involve items other than money as well.
According to federal law, it is also illegal to involve property in a financial transaction that has been obtained through criminal activity in order to conceal the property’s owner and continue facilitating the illegal activity. Finally, it is also illegal to transfer or transport funds obtained from criminal activity into or out of the United States.
If you are convicted of money laundering, you may face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a hefty fine of $500,000 or up to twice the value of the laundered funds. With such severe penalties, it is imperative that you immediately contact a diligent criminal defense attorney with experience successfully representing clients in federal court if you are facing money laundering charges.
Proving a Money Laundering Offense
If you are being charged with money laundering, the evidence introduced by the prosecution at trial must be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your intentions were to conceal the origins of the money. However, the prosecution must have extensive evidence in order to successfully convict you. For example, in addition to needing to show that a substantial amount of money was deposited into your bank account, they must also provide evidence showing that cash was transferred to an offshore shell company, smaller bills were exchanged for larger denominations, or other factors.
Why Choose Our Firm?
Our diligent and respected team of Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys has the experience, skills, and resources you need when facing federal money laundering charges. Typically white-collar crimes like money laundering are quite complex and carry multiple charges on numerous offenses. Usually carrying sentences of their own, these added charges further complicate trial proceedings that are already complex in nature.
The defense attorneys at our esteemed firm have a wealth of experience handling money laundering, fraud, and other white-collar cases in state and federal courts throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
For additional information on money laundering or to speak with one of our experienced Philadelphia money laundering attorneys, give us a call or fill out our convenient contact form today.