Money laundering is the act of concealing the source of illegally-obtained funds to make it seem like the money was ethically earned. There are several financial schemes that launderers use to attempt to hide the source, identity, and the destination of money earned through criminal activity. Money obtained through criminal activities like gambling, drug trafficking, embezzlement, tax evasion, or other serious crimes, is considered “dirty.” To make the money usable without arousing suspicion, it must be “cleansed” through a process of illegal actions; hence, the crime is called “money laundering.”
A person accused of money laundering likely faces federal charges. Money laundering is often considered a federal crime because illicit funds are being funneled back into the economy, which crosses state and international borders. Money laundering charges often accompany other charges for felony crimes, such as:
- Drug trafficking
- Mortgage fraud
- Real estate fraud
- Business fraud
- Healthcare fraud
- Identify theft
- Illegal transfers
- Tax evasion
- Theft or property crimes
- and more.
Several government agencies such as the FBI, IRS, DEA, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have a vested interest in thoroughly investigating money laundering cases as money laundering undermines the whole financial system. Laws are also in flux to make money laundering activities easier to detect. Banks additionally cooperate by using advanced data and security systems to report suspicious activity. If you are being investigated for money laundering in West Palm Beach or have just been arrested, you need to seek legal assistance.
Three Stages of Money Laundering
Money laundering is a complex process that aims to avoid law enforcement or government detection at every turn.
Placement: The placement stage is where the money that is illegally obtained is moved from the source. Launderers can accomplish this by inserting the money into financial institutions, casinos, currency exchanges, and other domestic and international businesses. This is the riskiest stage of laundering.
Layering: This stage attempts to make the trail difficult to follow. Cash can be converted into monetary instruments like money orders, or material assets can be bought and then resold so that the money obtained from the sale is legitimate.
Integration: Previously laundered funds find their way into the economy through banking systems. The money appears to be normal business earnings. It’s almost impossible to detect laundered funds at this stage other than through an informant.
Penalties for Money Laundering in West Palm Beach
Money laundering is a felony crime for which a person may face up to 30 years in state prison and hefty fines. The severity of the punishment is correlated with the amount of money involved.
- Third-degree felony for laundering $301-$19,999 within a twelve-month period. Can face up to 5 years in a state prison.
- Second-degree felony for laundering $20,000-$99,999 within a twelve-month period. Can face up to 15 years in prison.
- First-degree felony for laundering over $100,000. Can face up to 30 years in prison.
Don’t hesitate to contact a tough criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach for money laundering charges. Attorney Brian Gabriel has dedicated his career of 30 years to defending individuals accused of criminal offenses that include federal offenses in Florida. Call The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at 561-622-5575 for a free consultation.