Each and every day, money made through criminal activity is funneled into the local economies throughout California and the United States. In fact, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that more than $1.5 trillion is laundered every year, adding up to nearly 3 percent of the entire global economy.

Money laundering can be prosecuted under either California or federal laws, depending on the circumstances of the case. When prosecuted under federal law, money laundering can come with steep punishment, including hefty fines and prison time.

You are more than the charges against you. Don’t let accusations of federal money laundering affect your life for years to come. An experienced criminal defense attorney like  Peter Blair can help you navigate the criminal justice system and determine the best plan of action for your defense. When facing serious criminal charges, it is in your best interest to be proactive.

If you are facing federal money laundering charges, don’t wait to contact a criminal defense attorney. The more time your attorney can spend with your case, the better chance you have of reducing your charges or avoiding a conviction altogether. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact The Law Offices of Peter Blair online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

Legal Definitions

Whether it’s a drug deal, prostitution, or illegal firearm sale, criminal enterprises exist to make money. The money produced through these criminal means is considered “dirty” and can be linked back to the criminal enterprise or used as evidence in court cases against the parties involved. Therefore, those profiting from criminal activity tend to funnel the money back through legitimate businesses or other assets to disguise its source; this allows the money to be invested or used without raising suspicions.

Federal money laundering laws are found in 95 U.S. Code section 1956 and 1957. This federal statute prohibits two types of money laundering:

  1. Knowingly engaging (or attempting to engage) in a transaction of more than $10,000 using money obtained through criminal means
  2. Knowingly engaging in a transaction that involves criminal funds with the intent to promote the criminal activity or disguise the source of the money

Money laundering can take a number of forms with varying degrees of sophistication. Money laundering may be performed by funneling the criminal money through a business (such as a Laundromat or restaurant), converting the money to another form of currency, converting the money to another type of property (such as homes or luxury cars), or converting the money to another type of asset (such as securities or online-based currencies that are hard to track).

Penalties, Punishment & Sentencing

Knowingly participating (or attempting to participate) in a transaction of more than $10,000 using money obtained through criminal means is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to twice the value of the transaction. For example, say John uses the money he makes dealing drugs to buy a $15,000 car. Under federal money laundering statutes, he could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines. (If the court chooses not to use the “double the value of the transaction” standard, it can assign a fine based on the guidelines in Title 18 of the U.S. Code.)

Knowingly engaging in a transaction that involves criminal funds with the intent to promote criminal activity or disguise the source of the money is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, plus a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount of the money laundered (whichever is greater).

Legal Defenses

There are a variety of legal defenses available to those charged with federal money laundering, including:

  • Lack of knowledge: You can only be found guilty of federal money laundering if you knew the money came from criminal activity. If the prosecutor cannot prove you had knowledge of the money’s source, you cannot be convicted on money laundering charges. For example, say Jane’s boyfriend gives her $10,000 to pay off her credit card debt—but Jane had no idea that her boyfriend made the money by robbing homes. Jane could not be convicted of money laundering, even though she used the funds to pay credit card bills, because she did not know the money was “dirty.”
  • Lack of intent: In order to be convicted under 95 U.S. Code section 1956, the prosecutor must prove that you used the funds with the intent to promote criminal activity or the intent to conceal the source/nature of the funds. If that intent cannot be proven in court, you cannot be found guilty of money laundering under this statute. (However, if the amount exceeded $10,000 and the prosecutor can prove you knew the source of the money, you may still be charged under section 1957.)
  • Insufficient funds: The amount of money laundered must meet the $10,000 threshold to be charged under section 1957. What’s more, the prosecution must prove that this certain amount all came from illegal sources. In other words, if you mixed “dirty” money in with legitimate money, the prosecution must prove that the amount of dirty money reaches the threshold—not just the total maount.

Contact the Law Offices of Peter Blair

When charged with a federal crime, the consequences can be severe. Prison sentences and hefty fines are common in federal convictions, and a conviction on federal money laundering charges could affect your life for many years to come.

You are more than the charges you are facing, and you deserve an attorney who will aggressively fight for you and your freedom. Criminal defense attorney Peter Blair will use his thorough knowledge of state and federal law to come up with a solid defense strategy. Mr. Blair devotes the vast majority of his practice to litigation, and he understands the power of a proactive defense in getting your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

When facing federal criminal charges, don’t wait to contact a criminal defense attorney. The sooner you act, the better your chance of minimizing jail time or avoiding a conviction altogether. Mr. Blair can help develop a sound defense strategy that gives you the best chance at a favorable outcome, and he will fight for you every step of the way.

Don’t let these charges define you. If you are facing federal money laundering charges, contact The Law Office of Peter Blair. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.