Thankfully, the only money laundering most of us have done in our lives is when we forget to empty out our pockets before doing the wash. Criminally speaking, many aren’t even sure what the crime is, or they have a heck of a time explaining it.
In simple terms, money laundering occurs when you do something illegal, profit from it, and then engage in a legal business practice to “legitimize” your ill-gotten gains. In criminal circles, it’s also referred to as “washing.”
(See the Netflix show Ozark for a current pop culture example.)
While considered a white-collar crime for its financial motive and nonviolent nature, money laundering is nevertheless a serious crime, if for no other reason than it can make you party to other more serious crimes. As such, you can expect severe consequences.
How Texas Handles Money Laundering
In Texas, money laundering is governed by Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 34, Section 34.02. According to the text, a person can be found guilty if they do any of the following:
- They acquire or maintain an interest in, conceal, possess, transfer, or transport the proceeds of criminal activity;
- The conduct, supervise, or facilitate a transaction involving the proceeds of criminal activity;
- They invest, expend, or receive, or they offer to invest, expend, or receive, the proceeds of criminal activity or funds they believe to be the proceeds of criminal activity; or
- They finance or invest or intend to finance or invest funds believed to be intended to further the commission of criminal activity.
The penalties for being found guilty of money laundering can vary widely depending on the underlying crimes and the amounts. Anything from state to federal jail time is possible. Severity depends on amount and is broken down into four categories as follows:
- First degree felony: $200,000 or more
- Second degree felony: $100,000-$199,999
- Third degree felony: $20,000-$99,999
- State jail felony: $1,500-$19,999
Charged With Money Laundering: Now What?
If you find yourself charged, you do have some options. The most common defense is a simple lack of knowledge. The prosecution not only must prove laundering activities took place, they have to prove you had full knowledge of what you were doing. If they can’t do that, getting a conviction becomes very difficult.
Also, if the defendant can prove he engaged in the activity to help law enforcement lawfully seize the funds, then he’s in a good position.
Whatever led you to this point, it’s important to understand what’s at stake and where to go for help. Dallas criminal defense attorney John Teakell has decades of experience defending white-collar crimes, such as this. Contact the office today for a free consultation if you or someone you know has been accused.