Money laundering may not qualify as a gruesome or horrendous crime. Yet, individuals found guilty of this charge can serve considerable jail time. For any person charged with this crime, it is important to understand what this charge means and how to defend yourself against it.
The money laundering laws are a bit more complex than some assume. Someone suspected of this crime does not have to deposit tens of thousands of dollars of illegal funds or do so over many years to be found guilty. Any transfer of funds from an unlawful source intended to conceal the money as legal falls under this umbrella. Money laundering does not necessarily have to involve cash; assets can also be applied under this charge.
Proof of Source
The ability to prove that the source of the funds in question is not illegal is one of the most straightforward. For example, if the government alleges that the cash deposits made are from illegal drug sales, if the person being charged can prove otherwise, they may be able to dismiss the charges. In this case, a cash payment receipt equal to the deposit amount or proof of a check that was cashed for the same amount can help.
Lack of Intent
Another element that can be used as defense is a lack of intent. Money laundering is a unique crime in which someone can unknowingly engage in this activity. For example, maybe a friend asks you to hold money in your account for savings because they don't trust themselves not to spend it. In this case, you might think you are doing good, but if the funds are from an illegal source, it is money laundering. The ability to prove that you were unaware of the source of the funds and that you held the money without the intent of concealing it is helpful.
Sometimes the person being charged with money laundering is a victim. Sometimes people involved in powerful criminal enterprises will force innocent citizens to launder money to conceal the funds. These threats can include blackmail or even physical threats that almost leave the victim with no choice. In this scenario, if the victim can prove that they were forced to engage in this practice, it can serve as a viable defense.
If you or a loved one is facing this charge, speaking with criminal defense lawyers should be a priority to ensure you are protected.