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If you or someone you know is facing a money laundering charge, you are likely wondering how to move forward so that you can protect your future and reputation. You must remember that the steps you take now can impact you for the rest of your life, so you don’t want to take chances. Even if the police have not yet charged you with a crime, seek the support of a legal expert if you think that they are investigating you. Also, learning about money laundering and how it works will provide you with a clear picture of what to expect in the coming weeks and months.
Money Laundering Defined
Learning how to define money laundering is a great first step when your goal is to craft a strong defense. Money laundering is an attempt to conceal illegally obtained money and to make it appear to come from a legitimate source. In some cases, those who work as bankers or accountants can unknowingly help others hide money obtained from questionable pursuits. To protect the innocent, the Supreme Court ruled in Cuellar v. U.S. that the accused needs to know about the illegal source and purpose of the money before law enforcement can press charges.
When people gain a profit from an illegal business, they will raise suspicion if they spend the money without documenting how they obtained it. They will often start a shell business and make the money appear to come from it. Since the laws related to money laundering are complicated, you should speak with a legal professional if you have any more questions or need clarification.
Money Laundering Penalties
Being accused of money laundering can be a difficult and confusing experience for anyone, and you are likely wondering about the penalties that you could face. Depending on your situation, a federal court will likely review and prosecute your case, and you could get up to 20 years in prison if a jury convicts you. The amount of time that you will serve depends on a range of factors, such as your intent, the amount of money laundered and past convictions.
Money Laundering Defenses
While money laundering can result in years behind bars, creating a defense strategy can greatly improve your odds of reaching a favorable outcome. A caring and passionate defense attorney will help you decide what defense makes sense for your situation. Since the law requires violators to have criminal intent, demonstrating that you did not know about the source or purpose of the money can convince a jury to return a verdict of not guilty.
You can also use duress as a defense when the authorities try to convict you of laundering money. If a criminal uses threats or blackmail to force another person to launder money, that person can escape a conviction if he can prove his case in court.
Money Laundering and the Trial Process
Putting in the effort to learn about trials can help you understand the risks that you are facing. The process will start with a report and investigation into your income, how you store it and what you do with it. Detectives will often look into your tax records and any businesses that you own for signs of misconduct. The investigators will then use the evidence to request a probable cause affidavit, which will allow them to place you under arrest if a judge agrees.
After your first court hearing, you will have the option to post bail so that you can regain your freedom until the conclusion of the case. Rather than going to trial, most cases end with a plea deal. In other words, the prosecutor will offer to reduce your charges or to suggest a lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.
If you are not happy with the agreement, you can take your case to court and fight for your freedom and reputation. You could face many years in prison if the prosecutor can convince a jury that you have committed the crime in question. If the jury has a reasonable doubt about the prosecutor’s claims, they will find you not guilty.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
Once law enforcement officials launch a formal investigation, they will come at you with everything that they have, attempting to win a conviction. Detectives, police officers and prosecutors will lie about their evidence and the number of witnesses that they have to get you to confess. They will do everything in their power to make you appear guilty, and you can’t afford to face the battle alone.
A trained and dedicated criminal defense attorney will review the facts, search for holes in the prosecutor’s evidence and help you build the best possible defense. Your attorney will negotiate to help you get an attractive plea deal, but your attorney will zealously defend you in court if you are not pleased with the agreement.
The term money laundering is famous in movies involving criminal mysteries and the mob. It seems self-explanatory, but most people fail to understand the full extent of money laundering. The dictionary defines money laundering as “the concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks or legitimate businesses.” In layman’s terms, money laundering is obtaining money illegally and using alternative channels to make the money appear legal in some aspect.
This is a white-collar crime, and it’s prevalent in many areas of the United States. Many business owners use a legitimate business front to launder their money. An example of money laundering might be a local pizza company selling pizza to their customers while selling drugs to another set of customers in the back. The pizza company owner runs the profits from drug sales through the pizza business to make them look legitimate. This happens by falsifying pizza sales to make it look like more pizza was sold to account for the income taken in on any given day. It can be considered a state or a federal crime.
The law varies by state, but ever state considers money laundering an illegal act. When money laundering occurs, it usually involves three separate steps.
– A person has money he or she obtained illegally
– The person then takes the money and conceals where it came from to look legal
– Now the person takes the money from the clean source and uses it
Illegally obtaining funds can be done by various means.
2. Profit of the sales of stolen items
6. Drug sales
7. Tax fraud
8. Medicare fraud
9. Mortgage fraud
Most cases of money laundering include the use of a foreign bank account. These accounts are used commonly because the rules in other countries are far less strict than they are in the United States. Not all accounts are taxable in other countries, many don’t even require an actual name for the account holder. Instead, they favor a long and complex account number.
Penalties for Money Laundering
Every case is different, but federal law allows anyone accused of money laundering to be charged separately for each transaction when the case is tried in a federal court. One count of money laundering is punishable by up to $500,000 in fines or an amount equal to double the amount of the transaction. The court fines all guilty defendants with the option that’s more expensive. Every count of money laundering a person is charged with has the same penalty. If, for example, a person is charged with 10 counts of money laundering, he or she could be charged with fines of at least $5 million. Every defendant could face up to 20 years in prison for each transaction.
If the court decides to add civil penalties to each count of money laundering, another $10,000 for each transaction is charged. Before anyone is charged with money laundering, the court is responsible for proving the defendant knew the money was illegal when it was obtained, and willingly and knowingly funneled it through exceptional channels to make it appear legal. There are always exceptions to each case, and it’s important you hire a criminal attorney to help your case.
For example, a pizza restaurant involved in drug sales and money laundering might hire employees to deliver pizza. If the delivery person has no idea there are drugs hidden in a pizza box he is delivering to a client, or that the funds he’s taking from the client includes drug money, he’s innocent of money laundering. The court has to prove the pizza delivery guy knew he was taking illegal money and funneling it for his employer. In most instances, innocent employees have no idea what’s going on.
A criminal defense attorney is your best chance at a reduced sentence or proving your innocence in a money laundering case. Experience and an in-depth knowledge of the law is required to help anyone seek the most adequate defense when accused of money laundering on a civil or federal level when charges are filed.
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