In its simplest form, money laundering involves transferring money that was obtained in a criminal activity into legitimate channels for the purpose of disguising the fact that it was obtained legally. This is actually a rather difficult charge to prove and a qualified criminal defense attorney will have defense options available for you.
Keep reading to learn about the three main elements that must be proven in a case of money laundering. Then contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 to request a free legal consultation.
1. The Defendant Knew the Money Involved was the Proceeds of a Felony
If you “laundered” money that you did not know came from the commission of a felony, they you have not committed money laundering. However, note that the prosecutor has a relatively low bar of proof they must meet. They only need to show that you knew it was illegally derived in some way – not that you knew specifically where it came from. They can use circumstantial evidence to prove this.
2. The Defendant Must Have Initiated or Concluded a Financial Transaction
A “financial transaction” is legally defined as a purchase, pledge, sale, loan, gift, withdrawal, exchange of currency, extension of credit, purchase or sale of a safe-deposit box, transfer between accounts, or any other type of payment or transfer or delivery to, through, or by a financial institution. The prosecutor must prove that you took part in either initiation or concluding one of these transactions.
3. That the Defendant Had One of Four Specific Intents
The prosecution is required to prove that the defendant was acting with at least one of these four intents:
- To promote the carrying on of a specific unlawful activity or;
- To engage in tax evasion / fraud; or
- To conceal proceeds of an unlawful activity; or
- To avoid transaction reporting requirements under state or federal law.
The Punishment for a Money Laundering Conviction Depends on Several Factors
If a defendant is found guilty of money laundering, their punishment will depend largely on how many separate offenses they committed, how much the transactions were for, and if the defendant has a criminal history. A single, first offense can result in as much as a year in jail. For multiple offenses, the defendant could spend years in prison.
Work with a Criminal Defense Attorney Who Can Help You
You do not have to face this charge alone. Contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 and let us help you through this difficult process. We will begin with a free consultation during which we can learn what you have been charged with and your side of the story. We can then offer our best legal advice on how you can proceed.