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Money Laundering: Everything You Need to Know

Money laundering is the process of hiding or disguising the source of illegally-obtained money. Illegal money could come from a variety of sources, including drug trafficking, gambling, and fraud. The goal of money laundering is to make it appear as if the illegally-obtained money came from a legitimate source. 

It is a serious white-collar crime that can come with heavy penalties, including jail time. In this blog post, we’ll cover the basics of money laundering: what it is, how it’s prosecuted, and what to expect if you’re accused of it.

Is Money Laundering a Misdemeanor or Felony? 

Money laundering is typically prosecuted as a felony. However, some misdemeanor offenses can be charged as money laundering crimes. For example, in California, it’s a misdemeanor to launder $950 or less. 

What Are the 3 Different Types of Money Laundering? 

Money laundering is a complex financial crime that comes in more than one form. There are three different types of money laundering that we’ll discuss here: placement, layering, and integration. 

Placement involves placing illegal funds into a financial institution. For example, a drug dealer might deposit cash into a bank account.

Layering is the process of moving the money around to different accounts to make it more difficult to trace. Continuing with the drug dealer example, he might use layering to transfer money from one bank account to another before finally withdrawing it in cash. This makes it more difficult to trace the origins of the illegal funds.

Integration is when the criminal incorporates the illegally-obtained funds; that is, the laundered funds are reintroduced into the economy as legitimate funds. For example, the dealer might use the laundered funds to make legitimate purchases (i.e., a car or home).

What to Expect If You Are Accused of Money Laundering? 

If you are accused of money laundering, you could face severe penalties, including jail time and heavy fines. You will also likely have your assets seized by the government.

If you are under investigation for money laundering, it’s important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the complex legal process and protect your rights. While the defense that you build will largely rely on the circumstances of such, here are some common approaches that can help place you in a better position against any evidence.

3 Common Approaches for a Good Defense

One of the most common defenses against money laundering charges is known as the ‘color of right’ defense. This defense asserts that the defendant believed that their actions were lawful, even if they may have technically violated the law.

For example, if a defendant was accused of laundering money through a shell company, they could claim that they believed they were following all of the necessary regulations and did not know that their actions were illegal. 

Another common defense is to claim that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be difficult to prove, but if the prosecutor’s case relies heavily on circumstantial evidence, it may be possible to convince the jury that there is reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt. 

Finally, many defendants choose to cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for a reduced sentence. This means that they provide information about other people who may be involved in money laundering or other criminal activity. Cooperation agreements are negotiated on a case-by-case basis, so it is important to speak with an attorney before agreeing to cooperate with the prosecution. 

Money Laundering Is a Serious Offense That Requires A Great Defense

Money laundering is a serious crime that can come with heavy penalties. If you’re accused of money laundering, it’s important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the complex legal process and protect your rights.

John Teakell has worked on numerous money laundering cases throughout his career. He has served as a prosecutor and a defense attorney and can deconstruct evidence and cases to provide his clients with the best possible defense for accusations like these. If you need a strong defense for your money laundering case, look no further. Contact his office today to set up your first consultation.

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