Money Laundering Laws & Charges

Money Laundering is a type of white collar crime, similar to embezzlement. Both involve deception and a willful activity to hide the perpetrator’s financial gain. Although these two crimes appear to be alike, the methods for conducting each activity are different and involve unique activities that are addressed by state and federal laws.

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There are state laws that apply to these crimes, but due to the nature of the criminal involvement in financial systems, each crime more typically involves federal charges.

Money Laundering Crimes

To qualify as a money laundering crime, three specific elements must exist:

  1. The person accused of money laundering must introduce cash into the financial system.
  2. There must be complex actions performed that are designed to hide the illegal nature of the cash funding.
  3. The accused must realize a gain of wealth due to the combined transactions.

If all three elements have occurred, money laundering charges can be brought against the accused person.

The attempts at deception and acts of trying to cover up the cash funding activities are what usually will lead to detection of the illegal activities. As the large amounts of money accumulate, the perpetrator will face a new series of challenges to conceal that activity beyond just acquiring the illegal funds.

Examples of Money Laundering

The people who commit money laundering are always somehow involved with the business they are stealing from. The act of money laundering requires that an illegal source of income is present. This crime often is seen within illegal drug or gambling organizations. There is access to large amounts of money and someone within the organization must handle the cash while preventing detection of the income to the organization. This can be done in ways that circumvent typical bank procedures designed to detect large monetary deposits. Someone who has the large amount of money could divide it into smaller amounts that are low enough to be ignored by the banks, and deposit those smaller quantities into separate bank accounts to avoid detection.

Cases that have been processed for money laundering include a variety of methods used to hide and profit from the large amounts of cash and avoidance of taxes. In some cases, expensive real estate deals were involved or medical fraud allowed perpetrators to benefit from billing multiple insurance companies for services that were never rendered. Other schemes involve fraudulent promises of wealth to investors for contributing money to fake development companies. In some investment schemes, the person charged had used investor funds to pay other investors instead of fulfilling the promised investment or purchases that were to provide the profit return to investors. Other perpetrators merely kept the money from investors and used it for their own enjoyment, and sent out fraudulent monthly statements to those investors allegedly showing how their investments were growing.

There seem to be no limits to the schemes created for money laundering. Again, the basic action of money laundering is to hide large amounts of money gained illegally for personal profit. There are so many ways to do this and obviously many people that have extra cash to “invest” to these schemes; it is a global problem as well.

Punishments for Money Laundering

Most penalties for Money Laundering include fines, jail time, probation or a combination of punishments. Most offenses in this category are felony crimes, but some are misdemeanor class also. Misdemeanors have much shorter jail sentences, a year or less, while felony crimes are much longer, especially if the person is a repeat offender. If the crime is part of a criminal enterprise or related to terrorism, those prison sentences can be 35 years or longer.

In addition to jail time, convictions bring fines from a few thousand dollars to $500,000 or more, depending on the amount of money laundered. Probation is another possibility for punishing money laundering crimes. Typical probation includes random checks at home, drug tests at random, and to not commit other crimes. If probation terms are violated, the court can revoke it and impose stronger penalties.

This crime can be charged under federal or state laws, or both. Higher crimes of money laundering that involve financial markets generally result in federal charges. State laws are similar, but vary state to state and generally are for misdemeanors. Some white collar crimes, like embezzlement may be sentenced as a larceny, and terms are based on the value of the monetary amounts and any previous criminal record that person has on file. The value of a crime determines its classification as a misdemeanor or a felony crime. Higher amounts boost charges to a felony, which brings with it longer jail terms and much higher fines, up to $25,000. First offenders often are not sent to jail, but are put on probation.

State penalties differ. For example, in Massachusetts, there are higher penalties. A first offense will bring up to six years in prison plus a large fine, up to $25,000. However, if the value of any property involved is above that amount, the higher amount would then become the fine. Not a surprise, for repeat offenders, penalties are harsher. A conviction means at least two years imprisonment, but not over eight years. Fines also are boosted up to $500,000, or if three times the amount involved is higher, that would be the fine.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Money Laundering is a very serious charge. It relates to the seriousness of the criminal activity, the deliberate deception and intent to defraud others for personal gain. An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who understands all aspects of this type of criminal activity can create a strong defense case. They know what possibilities are available, and know how to defend against prosecution charges.

Evidence in these cases usually is physical, a paper trail that clearly shows transactions and movement of money designed to evade detection. A skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer will work diligently to disprove prosecution allegations, find errors in any evidence or testimony, and flaws in any procedures used to collect evidence.

Remember that your freedom, your reputation and your future is at stake when you are the accused in a criminal case. Work closely with the best Criminal Defense Lawyer who has a winning track record, a compassionate attitude and a devotion to providing exceptional legal advice, consul and representation.

Need Criminal Defense Help?

For a Federal or Criminal Consultation, text me today at 1-617-905-1433 or use the form below for your consultation. I will offer you expert help and answer any specific questions you have about your case. I handle criminal defense cases throughout all areas of Massachusetts including Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Springfield, Quincy, Lowell, Worcester, Fall River and national for Federal matters.

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132 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

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