What is Money Laundering?
You have probably heard the term “money laundering” before, but you might not know what it means. It is not a self-explanatory word at all: when you read or hear it, your mind might go right to an image of putting dollar bills in a washing machine or attempting to clear potentially-incriminating financial data from business logs or bank accounts. This second image is a bit closer to the actual definition of money laundering, which is the act of concealing or attempting to conceal the identity, source, and destination of illegally-obtained money. For example, an individual who sells illegal drugs might funnel his or her profits through a shell company, perhaps a small landscaping company or an eBay store, in an effort to make it appear like the money was obtained through legal means.
Money laundering is a criminal offense at the state and federal levels. It is a complex charge that can have severe penalties for a convicted individual. If you are charged with money laundering, work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend your case.
Elements of Money Laundering
Money laundering operations generally follow the same pattern:
- The individual comes into money through an illegal activity, which is often a white collar crime such as embezzlement or fraud. However, money laundering can also follow other offenses, such as drug sales or prostitution;
- The money goes through a string of transactions meant to conceal its source. This can be through a single purchase or through a series of purchases, sometimes putting the money into multiple streams to further obscure its path; and
- The individual receiving the money again at the end of the string of transactions.
It is not uncommon for money laundering schemes to involve offshore accounts, because these can further obscure the trail of a sum of money.
You could be charged with money laundering even if you have not actually committed a crime. In order to convict an individual of money laundering, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to make the money appear like he or she had obtained it legally and that he or she expected to collect it again once it reached the end of the transaction string he or she had set up. Without sufficient evidence to prove that he or she had these intentions or that the money came from a specific illegal activity, the court cannot convict an individual of money laundering.
Work with an Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with money laundering or any other type of criminal offense, you need to work with an experienced Miami criminal defense lawyer to defend your case and clear your name. Working with the right criminal defense lawyer can be the difference between being convicted and having your charge lowered or dismissed. To learn more about defending your case against a money laundering charge, contact our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers at Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today to set up your initial legal consultation with a member of our team.