Pierce County Criminal Attorney gavel and moneyA Pierce County criminal attorney may be able to clear up some of the misconceptions surrounding the crime of money laundering. Money laundering is a popular topic among the media, but it is nonetheless poorly understood. The International Monetary Fund estimates that anywhere between $600 and $1.5 trillion is laundered each year. Money laundering may seem like a complicated term, but it simply applies to any attempt to conceal the source, destination or identity of money that was obtained illegally. Money laundering is both a federal and state offense.

Concealment and Spending

Concealment is a key aspect to money laundering, and it is often confused with spending. If you obtained funds illegally and made an attempt to conceal them, you are guilty of money laundering. However, if you simply spend money you obtained illegally, you are not guilty of money laundering. For example, if you earn money through the process of selling stolen goods and then spend the proceeds, that is not money laundering. However, if you attempted to conceal the proceeds by giving them to a friend or relative, that is money laundering. Your Pierce County criminal defense team may be able to help clarify whether your actions qualify as concealment or merely spending funds obtained illegally.

Concealment Defined

Because concealment is a crucial ingredient to a money laundering charge, prosecutors must prove that you intentionally concealed the origination, ownership, nature, location or control of the money involved. Otherwise, money laundering did not actually occur. Simply hiding money obtained illegally does not obtained. You must have made an attempt to make it seem that the money itself came from another source. A Pierce County criminal attorney may help you argue against money laundering charges if a crime was committed but no attempt to conceal the profits was made.

Criminal Proceeds and Receipts

The Supreme Court has ruled that money laundering definitions do not apply to anyone who is merely profiting from illegal activity. For example, simply profiting from illegal gambling does not qualify as a money laundering offense. If you attempted to make it appear as if you earned those profits through a legitimate source, that would qualify as money laundering. Money laundering necessarily involves an attempt to conceal profits made. Your Pierce County criminal defense team may be able to argue against a charge of money laundering if it is not clear that you were intentionally concealing the profits of a crime.

Illegal Activity

Money laundering focuses on the act of concealing or attempting to conceal the proceeds of a crime. For this reason, the courts have determined that some profitable crime must be committed before a money laundering charge is valid. For example, if you attempt to conceal legally obtained funds from the IRS, you may be guilty of tax evasion but not money laundering.

Criminal Penalties

The penalties for money laundering vary significantly from one state to another. Most money laundering convictions involve a fine, prison sentence or probationary period. Money laundering is nearly always a federal offense, which can result in penalties of a year or more in prison. Some states consider money laundering a misdemeanor, which can result of a jail sentence of up to one year. Repeat offenders may face greater sentences of 35 years or more in prison. Money laundering fines are often significant, with felony convictions resulting in fines of up to $500,000 or double the amount of money that was laundered. Misdemeanor fines are generally less than a few thousand dollars, but specific fine limitations depend on the state. Probationary sentences typically last at least one year, but in some cases may last three or more years. During probation, you are required to report to your probation officer at regular intervals and submit to home checks and random drug screens. If you commit another crime or otherwise probation, the court may require you to serve a prison term, pay fines or serve a longer probation period. A Pierce County criminal defense attorney may be able to help you negotiate a lower sentence depending on the severity of the charges filed against you and the evidence obtained by the prosecution.

Contact a Pierce County Criminal Attorney

Money laundering is a serious charge that can have catastrophic consequences. If you have been charged with money laundering, consult Greene & Lloyd, PLLC today at (253) 770-0808 for more information. A Pierce County Criminal Attorney may be able to help you fight an unfounded money laundering charge.