Money laundering is a serious federal offense that has ties to organized crime and if you are charged with or convicted of the crime of money laundering, you could face life-changing penalties possibly including up to 20 years in prison, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and seizure or forfeiture of your assets. If you have been charged with the federal crime of money laundering, or if you have been brought in for questioning under suspicion of an illegal money laundering scheme, or if you are associated in any way with an individual accused of laundering money, you are in need of an experienced and respected criminal defense attorney who understands federal anti-money laundering laws and how they apply to your case. Consult Daniel R. Perlman and our team of accomplished defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Pro today to find out how we can help.
Reputable Federal Money Laundering Lawyer
Federal laws prohibiting money laundering have been expanded by the government to include virtually any kind of financial transaction and if you have been accused of participating in a money laundering scheme to conceal or promote criminal conduct, it is imperative that you hire an attorney who understands the nature and scope of current anti-money laundering laws. Believe it or no, you could be facing money laundering charges without even realizing you committed a crime. In many cases, the federal government will investigate money laundering cases for months or even years before filing charges, at which point the prosecution’s evidence against you may seem insurmountable. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, with the legal expertise of a skilled federal criminal defense lawyer on your side, you may be able to beat the charges and clear your name.
Money laundering is a highly specialized area of the law and defending against an accusation of money laundering requires the assistance of a defense attorney with experience handling federal criminal cases. Daniel Perlman and his team of criminal defense lawyers represent clients charged with money laundering schemes and other criminal offenses in the California state court system and in federal courts throughout the United States, and with his past experience as a prosecutor, Daniel Perlman brings a unique and valuable perspective to federal financial crimes cases. With a clear understanding of federal criminal law and a proven history of success defending business executives and individuals charged with white-collar crimes like money laundering, the lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Pro can help you get the best outcome possible in your federal money laundering case, possibly even securing a case dismissal before formal criminal charges are ever filed.
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is the act of disguising the source, amount or destination of money obtained by illegal means (“dirty” money), typically by way of numerous banking transfers or commercial transactions with legitimate businesses. Dirty money can be obtained in any number of ways – i.e. drug trafficking, fraud or embezzlement – and the purpose of money laundering is to “clean” the dirty money, or make it appear as though the money was earned legitimately, so as to avoid criminal investigation or prosecution for the underlying criminal offense. Another purpose of money laundering is to make it difficult for investigators and auditors to determine the original source of the income. Unfortunately, the act of cleaning dirty money is a crime in itself and individuals accused of money laundering can face harsh criminal penalties upon conviction.
Stages of Money Laundering
There are three distinct stages that money launderers use to conceal illegal income:
- Placement – The illegal funds are discretely introduced into the legitimate financial system by some means (i.e. placing the funds into a legitimate business where it becomes part of the business’ legitimate income)
- Layering – Carrying out complex financial transactions to move the illegal income around, disguise its source and make it more difficult to trace (i.e. wiring or transferring the money through offshore bank accounts)
- Integration – Withdrawing the now-laundered funds from what appears to be a legitimate account to be used for any purpose
Anti-Money Laundering Statutes
With the passage of the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, money laundering itself became a federal crime punishable by fines and a lengthy prison sentence. The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 consists of two sections: 18 U.S.C. § 1956 and 18 U.S.C. § 1957.
18 U.S.C. § 1956
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1956, an individual or business executive commits the crime of money laundering when he or she, with the intention of knowingly promoting the carrying on of illegal activity, avoiding the payment of taxes, avoiding transaction reporting requirements, or concealing the nature, ownership, location, source or control of the money, commits one or more of the following acts:
- Conducts or attempts to conduct a financial transaction involving money the person knows was earned from unlawful activity;
- Transports, transfers or transmits, or attempts to transport, transfer or transmit any funds to or from a foreign country; or
- Conducts or attempts to conduct a financial transaction involving money represented to be the proceeds of unlawful activity or property used to conduct unlawful activity.
18 U.S.C. § 1957
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1957, an individual or business executive commits the crime of money laundering when he or she “knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000.”
Punishment for a Federal Money Laundering Conviction
Money laundering cases are handled in federal court, which means any person accused of illegally laundering money will face prosecution by the federal government and could end up being convicted of a major federal offense. A conviction for money laundering under 18 U.S.C. § 1956 carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years and/or a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the money that was laundered, whichever is greater. A conviction for money laundering under 18 U.S.C. § 1957, on the other hand, carries a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Although money laundering can be charged as a standalone crime, in many cases, individuals and executives in California find themselves under investigation for money laundering in connection with other criminal offenses, such as bank fraud, mortgage fraud, credit card fraud, securities fraud or drug trafficking, and when this is the case, a money laundering charge on top of the punishment for the underlying crime can significantly increase the potential prison sentence the defendant faces. Even as a secondary offense to fraud or narcotics charges, money laundering is a serious criminal charge that should not be taken lightly.
It is important to keep in mind that a person charged with money laundering in federal court is subject to these criminal penalties for each count of money laundering he or she is accused of committing. In addition to a term of imprisonment and hefty fines, individuals facing federal charges for laundering money are also subject to asset seizure or forfeiture, which means the government can seize any property, cash, vehicles or other assets earned from or used as part of the money laundering scheme.
Defending Against Money Laundering Charges
With the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, the Bank Secrecy Act, the Patriot Act, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, the federal government has at its disposal a number of federal statutes dedicated to investigating and prosecuting money laundering offenses, and as the anti-money laundering programs in the United States have increased in scope, the criminal penalties resulting from a money laundering conviction have increased in severity. However, just because you have been accused of money laundering doesn’t mean the prosecution can prove that you committed the crime. In order to get a conviction for money laundering in federal court, the prosecution must establish each of the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You committed the act of money laundering, and
- You did so knowingly, with the intent to promote or conceal illegal activity.
Defense Strategies in Money Laundering Cases
The key to winning a money laundering case is successfully challenging the prosecution’s evidence and offering an alternative version of events that raises reasonable doubt in the eyes of the judge and jury. Since money laundering is what is known as a “specific intent” crime, the accused must have had a desire to commit the act and an intent to achieve a specific result in order to be guilty of the crime, and so any of the defenses available for specific intent crimes can be used in a money laundering case. The following are some possible defense strategies that may help you obtain an acquittal at trial or result in reduced criminal charges in a money laundering case:
- You did not engage in an illegal activity
- You weren’t aware that the money was obtained from an illegal activity (lack of intent)
- The money was not obtained from an illegal activity
- You participated in a money laundering scheme under duress
- The prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
By making money laundering a standalone crime, the government has secured yet another powerful tool for combatting criminal activity at the federal level. Because of its close association with other criminal offenses, money laundering schemes are typically investigated by the FBI, the IRS, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which can make accusations of money laundering extremely distressing. If you have been accused of laundering money, the best way to determine whether you have a good defense against the criminal charges is to consult a knowledgeable federal criminal defense lawyer. Daniel R. Perlman is a trial-tested attorney with years of experience defending clients against federal criminal charges like money laundering, and when you hire our firm, you get a qualified and dedicated lawyer with the skill and expertise necessary to put together a compelling defense in your federal money laundering case.
The longer you wait to retain a criminal defense attorney in your money laundering case, the more quickly your case can spiral out of control and the more likely you are to end up serving time in prison for the federal offense. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, our attorneys are aware of the devastating consequences a money laundering conviction can have for you and your loved ones, and we are committed to defending your rights and protecting your future. Whatever the circumstances of your money laundering charges, our criminal defense lawyers will aggressively represent your best interests and defend you against the criminal charges, working to minimize your criminal penalties and keep you out of jail. Not only will we ensure that you understand your rights under the law and have a clear picture of the defense strategies potentially available to you based on the specific facts of your case, we will carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding your criminal charges, deal with the federal authorities on your behalf, negotiate with the prosecution, and, if your case goes to trial, aggressively represent you in court.
Contact Our Federal Money Laundering Lawyers Today
In the past, the government primarily brought money laundering charges against drug dealers. Today, however, with increasingly more sophisticated money laundering schemes being used to promote or conceal criminal conduct, money laundering charges are being filed in virtually every white-collar case, as a means of invoking the enhanced criminal penalties associated with the federal money laundering statutes. If you are under investigation for a serious white-collar crime like money laundering, or if you have been charged with another financial crime in federal court, your first course of action should be to enlist the help of a highly skilled federal criminal defense lawyer. The legal consequences of a money laundering conviction are far-reaching and long-lasting and with the help of an experienced federal money laundering attorney like Daniel R. Perlman, you can minimize the impact of a criminal record on your personal and professional life. Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro as soon as possible to schedule a free, confidential consultation.