To put it simply, money laundering is the process of entering into a financial transaction with illegally obtained money for the purpose of either concealing or promoting the illegal activity. Some common methods of money laundering include: bank fraud, under- or over-valuing invoices in an attempt to disguise the movement of the illegally obtained money, transferring a title of real property, or purchasing casino chips with cash, then immediately cashing them in for a check.
Proving the crime of money laundering
In order for a prosecutor to prove the crime of money laundering, he must show that you knowingly engaged in a financial transaction with illegally obtained money for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illegal source of the money. Money laundering has been a federal crime since the passing of the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986.
It is important to understand that there is no minimum monetary threshold or requirement that the transaction you attempt to make actually succeed in hiding the money. In fact, the term “financial transaction” has been so broadly defined, that simply handing money to another person in an attempt to hide where it came from or who it belongs to will result in a money laundering charge.
When conducting the financial transaction, the prosecutor must prove that you had one of the following four specific intents:
(1) Intent to promote the carrying on of unlawful activity;
(2) Intent to engage in tax evasion or tax fraud;
(3) Knowledge that the transaction was designed to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership or control of the money after the unlawful activity; or
(4) Knowledge that the transaction was intended to avoid a reporting requirement under State or Federal law.
Defenses and Penalties associated with a money laundering charge
A money laundering conviction is a 20-year felony and carries a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property in the transaction. Forfeiture of assets is also a possibility.
One of the most common defenses to a money laundering charge is lack of knowledge of the illegal activity. Hiring an experienced attorney like Barton Morris will ensure that all possible defenses are thoroughly explored.
If you have been charged with federal crime, such as money laundering in the Oakland, Wayne or Macomb County communities of Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Warren, Troy or any surrounding area and want the best defense, call Michigan Criminal Attorney Barton Morris at (248) 541-2600. Mr. Morris was recently voted Top Attorney in Metro Detroit for 2012 and 2013 in the area of criminal defense.