Money Laundering – Charges and Defenses
Money laundering is a serious offense and being charged with it can turn your life upside down. Learn what you need to know if you are charged with this crime and how a California criminal defense attorney can help.
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is one of the most highly reported crimes in America, but it's also one that's ill-understood by many. According to California Penal Code 186.10, money laundering is defined as:
- A defendant conducting or attempting to conduct one or more illegal financial transactions through a financial institution
However, the definition breaks down into more detailed variations depending on the specifics of the charge. For instance, money laundering occurs when:
- The total monetary instruments how to value of more than $5000 and the defendant tried to conduct those transactions within a seven-day period OR
- The transactions were attempted or completed within a 30-day period and the monetary instruments were worth more than $25,000
Regardless of those specifics, to prove money laundering, the prosecution must show that:
- The defendant intended to promote, establish, manage, carry on, or facilitate criminal activity OR
- Knew that the monetary instruments were the result of criminal activity (basically, the money was dirty)
Boiled down, all this means is that a defendant can be accused of money laundering if they took possession of or made a transaction involving dirty money or using money they intended to use for criminal purposes, including deception, fraud, or other crimes.
This complexity opens up several possible defenses for skilled California criminal defense attorneys to take advantage of.
What Possible Penalties Exist?
Money laundering penalties can vary based on whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
Misdemeanor felonies can include penalties such as:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A fine of up to $1000
Meanwhile, felony penalties can include:
- A sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail
- A fine of up to $250,000 or twice the amount of money laundered depending on which is greater
Defenses to Charges of Money Laundering
A California criminal defense attorney can utilize multiple avenues for defense to prevent you from being convicted of this crime.
There Was No Criminal Knowledge of the Money's Source
If you didn't know that the money came from criminal activities, you cannot be convicted of money laundering since you weren't aware that the money was dirty. Similarly, you may be absolved of this crime if you weren't aware that making a transaction would be illegal based on the law.
The Monetary Threshold Was Not Met
Recall that money laundering requires a threshold of at least $5000 and $25,000 for a conviction. If the amount of money laundered or facilitated does not reach either of these thresholds, you cannot be convicted of money laundering.
In the zeal to solve a crime, the police can sometimes end up framing defendants for money laundering. A California defense attorney can help determine whether this was the case for your circumstances. If so, you will have a strong defense that you should not be convicted of the crime.
Why You Need a California Criminal Defense Attorney
Winning a money laundering case alone is difficult, and time is always of the essence. Contact the Law Office of Peter James Chambers today for a free consultation and to get one of Northern California's best criminal defense attorney on your side. With our help, you'll stand the best chance of getting the charges tossed and your life back to normal.