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.
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