Palm Beach Criminal Defense
In Florida, money laundering is a serious crime involving the channeling of funds, generated by an illegal activity, into a legitimate enterprise in order to disguise its source. While money laundering is classified as a white collar crime because it is a nonviolent offense, a conviction for this crime can still have serious and far-reaching consequences. If you are being investigated for or have been charged with money laundering, it is important to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you formulate a defense.
In Florida, a person commits the crime of money laundering when he or she conducts a financial transaction despite knowing that the property involved constitutes the proceeds of an unlawful activity and either:
- Having the intent to promote the illegal activity; or
- Knowing that the entire transaction is designed to conceal the nature, source, or ownership of the proceeds or to avoid a transaction reporting
It is also unlawful to transport such funds or to conduct transactions that promote racketeering.
A variety of different kinds of financial transactions can qualify as money laundering in Florida. For instance, in addition to typical transactions, such as purchases and sales, exchanges of monetary gifts, loans, investments, wire transfers, bank deposits, and currency exchanges are all considered financial transactions for the purposes of money laundering. Even transferring title to real property and vehicles can qualify, if the transaction is used to hide the proceeds from a crime.
Money laundering is associated with a number of crimes, including various fraudulent acts in a variety of areas:, including
- Health care;
- Real estate; and
Money laundering is also often associated with other crimes involving:
- Identity theft;
- Drug trafficking;
- Organized crime;
- Human trafficking;
- Embezzlement; and
- Exploitation of the elderly or disabled.
In Florida, penalties for a conviction of money laundering can be severe. For instance, if the funds involved in the transaction were between $301 and $19,999, the crime is considered a third degree felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years. If the amounts involved were higher, totaling between $20,000 and $99,999, the crime will be charged as a second degree felony and carries a fifteen-year prison sentence. Finally, if the funds involved total $100,000 or more, the charge will be a first degree felony, meaning a prison sentence of up to thirty years. A conviction can also require the payment of extremely heavy fines or the completion of probation.
There are several possible defenses to a charge of money laundering, including:
- A lack of knowledge about the source or purpose of the funds;
- Entrapment by law enforcement; and
- The funds were not the proceeds of an unlawful activity.
Aside from a potential prison sentence, a conviction of money laundering will remain on a defendant’s permanent record, making it much more difficult to gain employment and housing. If you have been charged with money laundering, an experienced attorney can help you formulate a defense and possibly get your charges reduced or dropped. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein to schedule a free consultation.