Money Laundering Defense Lawyer
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1956, Money Laundering is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years and fines of up to $ 500,000 or twice the value of the property involved or both.
Money laundering is the process of “cleaning” money obtained through illegal means so that it can be spent without fear that it will be seized or linked back to the criminal activity from which it was gained. New money laundering methods are becoming incredibly sophisticated, though traditional methods remain in wide use as well.
The Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP represents individual and corporate clients facing money laundering charges nationwide. We also defend clients against charges of drug trafficking, mail and wire fraud, and other crimes commonly associated with money laundering operations. If you have been arrested or are under investigation for alleged involvement in money laundering, our criminal defense lawyers will fight back aggressively seeking dismissal of your charges.
Federal Money Laundering Explained
In order to obtain a conviction for money laundering, the prosecution must prove that you conducted or attempted to conduct a financial transaction with the knowledge that the money or property involved was obtained through unlawful means. The primary federal money laundering law defines a “financial transaction” broadly to include (i) movement of funds by wire or other means; (ii) use of a credit card or other monetary instrument; (iii) transfer of title to real property or a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft; or (iv) use of a bank that operates in interstate commerce.
In light of this broad definition and the various options the government has for proving the necessary specific intent, there are numerous activities that can be charged as criminal money laundering under federal law. In fact, knowingly conducting almost any transaction with illegally-obtained funds is likely to result in federal charges if you get caught. Some of the most common forms of illegal money laundering include:
- Breaking up large deposits into smaller ones in order to avoid bank reporting requirements for transactions over $10,000 (known as “smurfing”)
- Smuggling cash into an offshore bank in a country with strict bank secrecy laws and less-rigorous anti-laundering enforcement
- Depositing money into an offshore account and then transferring it through a series of other international accounts in order to hide its origin
- Using shell companies and trusts with limited disclosure requirements in order to disguise the source of illegally-obtained funds
- Operating a legitimate, cash-based front business, and then representing the proceeds of criminal activity as income from the business
- Using cash from criminal activity to purchase chips at a casino, and then cashing out with a receipt to represent the funds as gambling winnings
- Paying unreported employees with illicit cash
Defending Against Federal Money Laundering
In addition to the above requirements, the prosecution must prove one of the following four “specific intents”:
- That you intended to carry on or promote an unlawful activity (promotional laundering)
- That you intended to engage in tax evasion or tax fraud (tax evasion laundering)
- That you knew the transaction was designed to conceal or disguise the unlawful source of the money or property involved (concealment laundering)
- That you knew the transaction was designed to avoid state or federal transaction reporting requirements (structural laundering)
If the prosecution cannot prove all of the necessary elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you are entitled to walk free of your charges.
Penalties for Money Laundering
If convicted of money laundering, you can face up to twenty years in prison and fines of $500,000, twice the value of the property involved, or both. Note that this is the punishment for just a single count of the offense.
However, the website for the Offices of the United States Attorneys encourages prosecutors to layer as many counts as possible. It gives this example:
“For example, if an individual earns $100,000 from [a crime which is then laundered, this is a first] offense. If he then withdraws $50,000, he commits a second offense. If he then purchases a car with the withdrawn $50,000, he commits a third offense. Each transaction should be charged in a separate count.”
As a result, money laundering charges (especially when compiled with charges for any underlying criminal activity) can quickly add up to millions in financial responsibility and decades – if not life – behind bars.
Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
Our experienced criminal defense lawyers and former federal prosecutors provide vigorous, aggressive representation for money laundering charges throughout the United States. If you have been arrested or are under investigation for money laundering, you need serious legal representation. To get started today, call Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP at (888) 727-0472 or request a free, confidential case evaluation online now.