Money laundering is a very serious white collar offense under both Washington and federal criminal laws. The crime involves the transfer of money that’s been gained from a criminal activity, or engaging in monetary transactions to promote criminal activity. The transfer is either made to promote ongoing criminal activity or made so that it looks like the money has been legally earned (or both). The penalties for money laundering are indeed dire. If you or a loved one are facing charges for money laundering, it’s critical that you contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney now.
What is Money Laundering?
The laundering of money is perhaps best understood by thinking of the crime as including two acts. The first involves a person obtaining money from an unlawful activity – for example, theft or the manufacturing of drugs. The second involves the person transferring the money to conceal its location, source, or nature, or using the money to promote ongoing criminal activity.
Let’s consider an example. If a person obtains $10,000 from the sale of drugs, he has committed a crime and received money from an unlawful activity. This is the first act required to commit money laundering. If nothing further is done with the money, then we don’t have a case involving laundering. However, if the person now makes small deposits of the money into different bank accounts over an extended amount of time, to conceal where it came from, then that person has now committed the crime of money laundering.
What are the Penalties for Laundering Money?
Money laundering is treated as a Class B felony under Washington law. The crime is punishable by:
- A maximum prison term of 10 years; and/or,
- A maximum fine of $20,000.
The commission of this offense will also result in a civil penalty. The amount of the penalty is twice the value of the proceeds involved in the case (as well as, the costs of bringing the lawsuit).
Money laundering is also often charged as a federal crime in federal court and sentenced subject to the federal sentencing guidelines. The penalties for money laundering are often tied to the penalties associated with the underlying crime.
Are there Legal Defenses to the Crime?
Luckily, there are legal defenses available if a person is accused of laundering money. For example, a defendant may assert that authorities obtained evidence illegally or in violation of technical evidentiary rules. Further, the accused may argue that there is no evidence to support the underlying activity that generated the money being questioned. If no underlying activity, then there’s little foundation to support a laundering charge.
The criminal attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience helping clients fight criminal charges. This includes charges involving the laundering of money. Our criminal defense lawyers are knowledgeable on the law, tireless in their efforts, and dedicated in their representation. They also work extremely hard to ensure you understand every detail of your case. Do yourself a favor and contact them now to get the criminal defense you deserve.