What is Money Laundering?
Money Laundering is defined as a type of financial transaction (or transactions) that are conducted to hide, conceal, disguise, or process money that was originally obtained through criminal or unlawful activities. It is also considered a White-Collar crime, where it often goes hand-in-hand with organized crime or racketeering investigations.
In order to get convicted for a Money Laundering crime, the prosecutor must prove and establish that the defendant was aware of the illegal criminal act or that the source of the money was unlawful. Furthermore, it has to be proven that the defendant knew that the proceeds were a product of illegally gotten funds.
How does Money Laundering occur?
In Florida, there are different ways in which money laundering can occur, including (but not limited to) purchases, loans, monetary gifts, investments, sales, and the like.
There are multiple stages of money laundering:
- Placement: This stage consists of moving funds from an illegal source to a different location. An example is moving the illegally obtained money into a separate business or an offshore bank account.
- Layering: During this stage, the people involved make detecting the original source of the fund more difficult, in an attempt to hide the trail of the illegal money. An example of this stage is converting those funds into real estate or other purchases.
- Integration: this happens when the laundered money is put back into the stream of commerce and economy. Normally this occurs by depositing funds into a bank account by making false loans or import invoices, amongst other activities.
In Florida, the penalties for Money Laundering vary depending on the value of the financial transactions involved and the severity of the charges against the defendant.
When the financial transaction is more than $300 but less than $20,000, the crime is considered to be a third-degree felony. The maximum penalty for this kind of crime is five years in prison.
A second-degree felony happens when the value of the financial transaction is between $20,000 and $100,000. This carries with it a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.
And lastly, the most severe felony is a first-degree felony charge, which happens when the value of the financial transaction is greater than $100,000. This being the most severe, the maximum penalty is 30 years in prison.
However, these are not the only punishments for committing money laundering. All of the felony offenses can be additionally punished with a fine of $ 250,000, or twice the value of the financial transaction involved, whichever is greater.
Additionally, if the defendant was priorly convicted for Money Laundering, the fine can go up to $500,000 or five times the amount of the money laundering transactions.
If you or a loved one happens to be involved in any of the situations stated before, it is advisable that you get the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Russell Spatz has practiced law in the state of Florida for over 40 years, and he´s ready to hear your case. Call him today at (305) 442-0200 for a consultation.