Money laundering is one of the common white collar crimes that occurs in Tampa and throughout Florida. But despite frequent prosecutions, not everyone is familiar with what constitutes money laundering. With so many questions surrounding money laundering, we have put together a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding the crime and the charges that come with it. To discuss the issues surrounding a money laundering charge in greater detail, contact Omar Abdelghany and the OA Law Firm today.
Money Laundering – Frequently Asked Questions
What is money laundering?
Generally speaking, money laundering is any scheme intended to conceal the identity, source, or destination of unlawfully obtained money. What that means is that a charge of money laundering must involve money obtained through the commission of a separate crime.
The laws surrounding money laundering are complex, and it can take an experienced eye to sift through years worth of financial records to identify potential wrongdoing. The state of Florida has forensic accountants at their disposal to build a money laundering case. With so many resources stacked up against you, it is imperative you even the playing field with a white collar crime attorney you can count on.
Who would prosecute a money laundering case?
The parties involved in prosecuting a Florida money laundering case and the jurisdiction that case falls under can vary. That's because there are both state and federal laws under which you may be prosecuted for money laundering. If you are charged with violating state law, the county district attorney will be tasked with prosecuting you. But if you are charged under federal law, a United States Attorney for your district will oversee your case.
The Florida statute related to money laundering is Florida Statute § 896.101. According to the statute, it is unlawful to make any financial transaction “ Knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity.”
Money laundering is governed under federal law by 18 U.S.C. § 1956. To be guilty of money laundering you must “conduct or attempt to conduct a financial transaction, knowing that the property involved in the financial transaction represents the proceeds of some unlawful activity, with one of the four specific intents discussed below, and the property must in fact be derived from a specified unlawful activity.”
Is money laundering a felony?
Regardless of whether you are charged under the state or federal statute, you can be facing felony charges with serious potential consequences if convicted. The penalties you may face depend on whether you are charged with a state or federal crime, but they are severe in either case.
What are the penalties for money laundering?
If you are charged with money laundering under the Florida statute, the penalties for a conviction will depend on the amount of money you are alleged to have laundered. For less than $20,000, you will face a maximum sentence of five years. For between $20,000 to $99,999, you will face a maximum sentence of 15 years. And for $100,000 or more, you could spend up to 30 years in prison. These penalties would be on top of any other charges in the event that you are also arrested for the underlying crime that these funds came from.
As for federal crimes, a conviction for money laundering has a narrower sentencing range when it comes to jail time. A conviction for money laundering under federal law carries up to 20 years in federal prison, a maximum fine of $500,000, or both.
With penalties this steep, it is important you don't leave anything to chance. Hiring an experienced white collar crime lawyer is the most important step you can take when it comes to protecting your rights.
What are some common defenses against a charge of money laundering?
When it comes to defending a charge of money launder, attorney Omar Abdelghany considers every possible angle. Each case is different, and the circumstances of your arrest will be a major factor in what defenses might be appropriate in your case. Some of the most common defenses in a money laundering case include the following.
Insufficient evidence – To convict you of money launder, the prosecutor in your case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. The burden of proving your guilt is on the state, and a strong defense is simply proving that the prosecutor has failed to meet that burden.
Duress – In some cases, it is a defense if you only committed a crime due to threats levied against you or a loved one. If you laundered money under fear of violence from another, you may have a valid claim of duress. While claims of duress are rare, it is recognized as a valid defense.
Lack of Intent – Money laundering is a crime of intent. In other words, to be guilty you must have known the source of the money was illegal and intended to make the transactions in question. If you acted without the intent to commit the crime, you have a valid defense. That could include not knowing the money you were moving around stemmed from a criminal enterprise or even that a clerical error was made.
Discuss your case with Tampa's Best White Collar Crime Defense Attorney
The consequences of a conviction for money laundering carry consequences that can last for the rest of your life. Beyond the potential jail term and fines, a conviction will also lead to a felony conviction on your record. This can lead to a lifetime of difficulty in obtaining employment or housing. With so much at state, hiring the right white collar crime lawyer is imperative.
If you have been arrested for money laundering in the Tampa, Florida area, contact attorney Omar Abdelghany immediately. Omar understands how serious these charges are and how they can weigh on your life. That weight is why he commits to providing the highest level of service possible for every client. To discuss your case, contact Omar Abdelghany and the OA Law Firm to set up a free consultation today.