How a White Collar Crimes Lawyer Can Challenge Your Money Laundering Charges
Getting charged with money laundering can be scary. The penalties are harsh, and the government seems to have endless resources to investigate and prosecute these complex financial crimes.
But having an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney on your side can make all the difference. A knowledgeable lawyer understands the elements of money laundering charges, the typical defenses, and how to build the strongest case possible to fight the allegations.
This article will explain:
- What constitutes money laundering
- Common defenses against money laundering charges
- How an attorney can challenge the prosecution’s case
- Potential penalties if convicted
- Why hiring a skilled white collar crimes lawyer is so important
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering involves concealing the source of money obtained through criminal activity. It allows criminals to hide and accumulate wealth, avoid prosecution, and continue illegal operations.
According to federal law, money laundering occurs when someone knowingly:
- Conceals the existence, source, ownership, or control of illegally obtained money
- Conducts a financial transaction with money derived from criminal activity
- Transports money derived from criminal activity across state or national borders
- Uses illicit money to promote criminal activity
Both individuals and businesses can face money laundering charges. Common examples include:
- Depositing cash from drug sales into a bank account
- Transferring funds between accounts to disguise their source
- Buying assets like real estate with illegal profits
- Running a legitimate business that receives substantial income from criminal activities
The money itself does not need to be physically “dirty” or obviously illicit. Simply conducting transactions or moving funds around to hide criminal connections can lead to money laundering charges.
How a Lawyer Can Challenge the Prosecution’s Case
An experienced white collar crimes attorney has the skills to thoroughly analyze the prosecution’s case and evidence, identify inconsistencies or specious legal theories, and build a strong defense. Ways a skilled lawyer can challenge money laundering charges include:
- File motions to suppress evidence – If any evidence was obtained illegally, your attorney can file a motion to have it excluded from the case. This could include evidence seized without a warrant or due to an unlawful search.
- Challenge the credibility of witnesses – The prosecution may rely on testimony from informants, co-conspirators, or undercover agents. Your lawyer can scrutinize their background and motives, looking for credibility issues to undermine their statements.
- Contest the prosecution’s interpretation of financial records – Prosecutors may claim certain transactions reveal criminal conduct, but your attorney can demonstrate legitimate reasons for your financial activities.
- Retain expert witnesses – Financial crimes and money laundering cases often involve complicated records, transactions, accounting principles, and banking regulations. A defense expert can help rebut the prosecution’s theories.
- Negotiate with prosecutors – Your attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to get charges reduced or dismissed, particularly if there are credibility concerns or evidentiary issues. This can happen pre-trial, or even after conviction upon appeal.
What are the Penalties for Money Laundering Convictions?
Money laundering is a serious felony charge at both the federal and state level. Maximum penalties are harsh:
- Up to 20 years in federal prison
- Fines up to $500,000 or twice the amount laundered
- Asset forfeiture so prosecutors can seize property
- Probation lasting multiple years
- Restitution to pay back taxes and victims
Sentences are typically based on the amount of money laundered, the sophistication of the operation, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether the activity supported terrorism or organized crime.
In some cases, charges can even be brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. This allows prosecutors to seize entire businesses linked to money laundering activity.