As the war on drugs commenced in the 1980s and the criminal justice system began to clog with low-level drug cases, significant court delays and other problems developed. Philadelphia was home to one of the early drug court programs that reduced the days required for processing a case and increased annual case dispositions. Drug courts…
Philadelphia Federal Money Laundering Defense Lawyer
Protecting the Rights of Individuals Accused of Money Laundering
Pursuant to the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, it is a federal crime to knowingly engage in a financial transaction with the intention of concealing the proceeds of illegal activities. The most serious illegal activities that the law singles out are those who attempt to hide the ownership, control, or source of the money at issue.
If you have been charged with money laundering at the federal level, you are likely facing significant penalties and criminal consequences upon conviction. A federal money laundering criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia can review the circumstances of the financial transaction or transactions at issue in your case. A lawyer may be able to assert a defense to the charge on your behalf or negotiate for a reduced charge or criminal penalty at the time of sentencing.
Types of Prohibited Transactions
The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 prohibits a variety of illegal transactions. The law defines “transactions” very broadly. A “transaction” under the law refers to a bank transaction, such as a deposit, withdrawal, loan, or money transfer. “Transactions” can also include purchases, sales, or loans.
In order for you to be charged with money laundering, the financial transaction need not be one hundred percent complete. If you attempt to make the illegal transaction, a federal prosecutor could still charge you with money laundering.
Moreover, a transaction that involves money laundering usually – but does not need to – involve a bank, credit union, or other financial institution. An illegal money laundering transaction could involve something as simple as passing money to another person – with the intention of concealing or disguising who owns or controls it (or where the money comes from). Even though a bank is not involved under those circumstances, a federal prosecutor could still indict you for money laundering.
The financial transaction at issue does not even need to involve money. Under the Act, a person may not perform (or take part in) a financial transaction that involves property obtained through criminal activity, in order to try and hide where the property comes from (or who owns the property). In order to be charged criminally, the accused must have specifically intended to further the criminal activity at issue.
Finally, it is against the law to transfer or transport illegally obtained funds into or out of the United States. A federal money laundering defense lawyer in Philadelphia can review your specific charge and present you with all of your available legal options.
The burden of Proof in Federal Money Laundering Cases
In federal money laundering cases, the burden of proof on the government prosecutor is extremely high. The prosecutor must prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt and must demonstrate that you intended to conceal the origin of the money or property at issue.
The prosecutor may be able to demonstrate the intent element based upon either direct or circumstantial evidence. Specifically, the prosecutor may be able to show that you deposited a large sum of money in a bank account – and that a fake off-shore company transferred the money to the bank, or that the cash was exchanged for larger bills on a previous occasion.
The federal prosecutor assigned to your case must prove all of the legal elements – including the intent element – beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot meet his or her burden of proof, a judge or a jury will not be able to convict you of money laundering. An experienced Philadelphia money laundering defense lawyer can review the facts of your case with you and poke the necessary holes in the federal prosecutor’s case, in hopes of obtaining a dismissal on your behalf.
Potential Penalties for a Federal Money Laundering Conviction
If you are tried, found guilty, and convicted of money laundering in the federal court system, you will likely be facing serious penalties and consequences. If you are ultimately found guilty and convicted of money laundering it the federal system, you could be hit with one or both of the following:
- A maximum of 20 years in a federal detention facility
- A monetary fine in the amount of $500,000 – or a fine that amounts to twice the value of the property or money involved in the money laundering scheme.
Defenses Federal Money Laundering Charges
If you have been charged with money laundering at the federal level, a good legal defense could help you obtain a complete dismissal of your charge. Potential defenses to a federal crime of money laundering include the following:
- Lack of specific intent – In order to be convicted of money laundering, you must have specifically intended to commit the crime. If you can show that you were not aware that the money or property at issue was obtained illegally, then you cannot have committed the crime of money laundering.
- Duress – If you or a loved one was threatened or coerced into committing the crime of money laundering (such as with threats of bodily harm), then you may be able to raise duress as a legal defense to your charge.
- Lack of evidence – In order for a criminal charge to stand against you, there must be ample evidence. In the context of money laundering, the prosecution must introduce specific evidence to show that you intended to prevent funds that were illegally obtained from being traced back to their place of origin. The evidence must also show that the laundered money originated from a specific illegal act. If either of these elements is lacking, then this lack of evidence may be a successful defense to your money laundering charge.
Call a Philadelphia Federal Money Laundering Defense Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with federal money laundering, there is no time to lose in seeking out experienced, professional legal counsel to represent you in your criminal case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a knowledgeable Philadelphia federal money laundering defense lawyer, you should call us today at 215-712-1212, or contact us online.
If you are facing a potential federal money laundering charge
The criminal defense attorneys of Wimmer Criminal Defense may be able to provide representation during proceedings. To schedule a free and confidential case review, call today