San Diego Money Laundering Attorney
Money laundering regulations were passed in California to help prosecute high-level organized crime bosses who were responsible for the profits of the illegal activity of subordinates.
Today, people who are merely associated with someone earning money illegally may be unfairly implicated in money laundering schemes and subject to extensive jail time or massive fines that can leave your life in ruins.
Even an accusation of money laundering can ruin your reputation and destroy your career. Regardless of your case’s circumstances, it is vital to have an attorney who understands the CA law system to help you through this process. A good money laundering lawyer can be critical to protecting your freedom and defending your professional name from the permanent damage money laundering charges can do.
Stephen G. Cline has more than 20 years of experience successfully getting charges dropped or reduced for white-collar crimes like money laundering. Call his San Diego office today at (619) 235-5638 to discuss your case with no cost or obligation.
What is Money Laundering?
How does money laundering work? The money laundering definition is sometimes worded differently, but it essentially means disguising or funneling illegally-obtained money through financial institutions, such as banks or credit unions. This funneling is used to conceal paper trails leading to the source of the illegal funds.
Some examples of activity that laundered money can come from include prostitution, drug sales, mail or wire fraud, gambling, bribery, embezzlement, counterfeiting, or any other illegal activity where a profit is generated. As a federal crime, money laundering carries steep penalties that range from prison time to extensive fines.
Money Laundering – California Penal Code Section 186.10
Money laundering in California is prosecuted according to Section 186.10 PC, which states that if a person is accused of money laundering, they must be proven to have:
- Conducted, or attempted to conduct, one or more financial transactions through a financial institution of more than $5,000 over the course of seven days or less
- Conducted one or more transactions with a total exceeding $25,000 within a 30-day period through one or more financial institutions.
The $5,000 and $25,000 figures represent the minimum amount of money to qualify for money laundering charges. Cash deposits or transactions through a financial institution equaling less than the requisite amount of money in a given week, or month, cannot be prosecuted as money laundering under Penal Code Section 186.10. Additionally, you cannot be convicted of money laundering for transactions involving illegally obtained money that were not done through a financial institution.
The law specifies that the crime must be committed knowingly. In other words, if you have made transactions with illegally-obtained funds but were unaware of the source of the funds, or the illegal intent of the transaction, you cannot be convicted of money laundering.
What is the Punishment for Money Laundering?
Money laundering is a serious offense with severe penalties, including but not limited to substantial jail time and extensive fines. Money laundering punishments includes:
- Federal prison sentences of up to 20 years
- Fines of up to $500,000, or double the amount of the illegal financial transaction, whichever is greater
- A permanent criminal record
Civil penalties owed to the government of the United States may also be tacked on for certain violations. These civil fines are normally equal to $10,000, or double the value of the funds or property involved in the illegal transaction – whichever is greater. Money laundering penalties may increase if you have prior felony convictions.
The damage a conviction does to your reputation can be irreparable. Because of the nature of the crime and the permanent stain of a conviction on your record, it can be nearly impossible to find employment after a money laundering conviction.
California Statute of Limitations: Money Laundering
California law has a five-year statute of limitations on federal money laundering charges. Each case may vary depending on the circumstances, but in general, charges must be brought against you within five years of the alleged transactions occurring.
Defending San Diego Money Laundering Charges
Money laundering charges must be supported with clear and indisputable evidence that you:
- Engaged in a financial transaction involving unlawfully-obtained funds
- Knowingly intended to conceal the illegal source of the funds
- Used a bank or other financial institution to conduct the illegal transaction
If one or more of these accusations cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot be convicted of money laundering. A good money laundering lawyer will seek to:
- Cast doubt on your intent to launder money
- Cast doubt on your knowledge of the money’s illegal source
- Question police conduct, including searches that may have been done unlawfully
The prosecution must also prove that the total amount of the alleged transactions surpassed the minimum needed for a laundering charge, and that all of the money involved was obtained illegally.
Stephen G. Cline’s legal team will work to dissolve the credibility of these accusations, and disprove your connection with them in efforts to exonerate you. We will also investigate the police conduct surrounding your charges to expose any unlawful searches. If evidence against you was obtained through improper police conduct, it may be inadmissible in court.
Call our San Diego offices today at (619) 235-5638 to schedule a free consultation. Money laundering is a serious charge, and Stephen G. Cline is just as serious about defending his clients from the ruin it can bring to your personal and professional life.
Money Laundering FAQ
What is money laundering?
Money laundering is the distribution of unlawfully obtained money through financial institutions with the intent to avoid detection or suspicion of the money’s source.
How does the prosecutor prove money laundering?
In order to get a conviction, a prosecutor will attempt to prove three things.
- That you conducted or attempted to conduct one or more unlawful financial transactions
- That these transactions were done using illegally acquired funds
- That the transactions were conducted using at least one financial institution (like a bank)
When multiple transactions are alleged, the prosecutor will attempt to prove that their total value was more than $5,000 within a seven-day period, or $25,000 over a 30-day period.
Who can be charged with money laundering under Section 186.10 PC?
Anyone who engages in conduct that meets California law’s minimum requirements as stated above may be charged with money laundering.
Why fight money laundering?
Money laundering is a federal crime, and it carries serious consequences that can destroy a person’s life. Without representation by an experienced money laundering attorney, you risk long prison sentences and extraordinarily expensive fines.
How can you fight a charge of money laundering?
There are many ways a money laundering attorney can fight your charge. The two most common and effective techniques are proving:
- Lack of intent or knowledge. Proving that you were unaware of the illegal nature of the funds or transactions is key to winning a not guilty verdict.
- Insufficient money to qualify for charges. Proving that the amount of money involved was less than required for a money laundering charge, or that enough of the funds in question were obtained lawfully, can also protect you from a conviction.