Austin Money Laundering Lawyer

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Facing federal money laundering charges can be daunting and carries significant consequences if you're found guilty. If you find yourself under investigation or charged with money laundering, it's important to clearly understand how the law defines money laundering, the potential penalties, and the defense strategies that might be available to you.

When you contact the Austin money laundering lawyers at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our team can explain what you need to know about these charges so that you can effectively respond to these serious accusations.

Get in touch with our office today by calling (512) 991-0576 or by contacting us online!

What is Federal Money Laundering?

Under 18 USC § 1956, money laundering involves making illegally obtained money appear legitimate. For instance, if you have money from illegal activities like drug trafficking or fraud, and you use it in regular financial transactions without drawing attention, you're engaging in money laundering. This can include depositing money in a bank, buying property, or making investments.

To convict you of money laundering, a prosecutor must prove several points. First, they need to show that you knew the money came from an illegal source. You don't need to know the exact crime, just that the money was illegally obtained. Secondly, your participation in a financial transaction with this money is crucial. This includes a wide range of financial activities like depositing, withdrawing, transferring money, or using a safety deposit box. Finally, the prosecutor must show your intent. They need to prove that your involvement had a specific purpose, such as promoting further illegal activities, hiding the illegal source of the money, or evading reporting requirements.

What are the Penalties for Money Laundering?

If you knowingly engage in financial transactions with money from illegal activities and intend to promote more illegal activities or hide the nature, source, or control of this money, or avoid state or federal reporting requirements, you could face a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater. Additionally, you could receive a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

If the laundering involves moving money or monetary instruments across U.S. borders, similar fines and prison time apply. U.S. courts can also have jurisdiction over foreign individuals involved in these activities. If you conspire to commit or attempt money laundering, the penalties are equally severe as those for completing the act.

A money laundering conviction can impact more than just your freedom. With a criminal record, it could be extremely difficult to get a job in banking or finance and can result in the loss of professional licenses, damaging careers in law, accounting, or other fields.

Engaging in Monetary Transactions With Property Derived From Illegal Activity

Under 18 USC § 1957, it is illegal to knowingly engage in financial transactions involving property worth more than $10,000 that comes from criminal activities. This involves using illegally obtained money or assets in significant financial operations like depositing, withdrawing, transferring, or exchanging through financial institutions. The critical factor is that the person knows the property is from illegal activities, though they don't need to know the exact crime involved.

If found guilty, you could face fines decided by the court or up to ten years in prison, or both. The court may also impose a fine up to twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, which can be very high if large amounts are involved.

What is the Criminal Process for Money Laundering?

Money laundering investigations often begin with monitoring financial activities by agencies like the IRS, FBI, and the Department of the Treasury. Suspicious bank activities or transactions reported by banks can trigger these investigations. Agencies then review financial records, track transactions, and sometimes use undercover operations or informants to link money to illegal activities like drug trafficking or fraud.

If enough evidence is collected, you will be formally charged and required to appear in court. You can plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, the case goes to trial, where the prosecution must prove you knowingly engaged in financial transactions with illegal proceeds. Both sides present evidence and arguments during the trial.

If convicted, penalties depend on factors like the amount of money involved and your role in the crime. Possible penalties include imprisonment, fines, or probation. Each case is unique, and the outcome depends on the specifics and evidence.

Potential Defenses in Money Laundering Cases

One common defense is claiming you didn't know the money came from illegal activities. The prosecution must prove you knew the money was from a crime. If you genuinely did not know, this defense can be strong.

Another defense is the lack of intent to commit a crime. This applies if you believed you were involved in a legitimate business deal and had no intention of breaking the law.

If you were forced to participate in the money laundering scheme under threat or pressure, you can argue duress or coercion. This defense requires proof of significant pressure or threats of harm.

Entrapment by law enforcement is a more challenging defense, requiring proof that officers induced you to commit the crime, which you wouldn't have done otherwise.

If you can prove the money came from a legal source, it undermines the basis of money laundering charges.

Finallychallenging the credibility or admissibility of weak, unreliable, or irrelevant evidence can undermine the prosecution's case.

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How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help With Money Laundering Charges

When you face money laundering charges, a federal criminal defense lawyer becomes crucial. They start by thoroughly examining your case, including the charges and the evidence. They explain the charges and your rights in clear terms, ensuring you understand the prosecution's responsibilities.

The main task of your lawyer is to create a solid defense. This includes collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and considering all possible defenses based on your case's specifics.

If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will defend you in court by arguing your case, cross-examining witnesses, and challenging the prosecution's evidence. Their goal is to present your side of the story and protect your rights throughout the legal process.

Outside the courtroom, your lawyer might negotiate with federal prosecutors. They could potentially arrange a plea deal, which might result in reduced charges or a lighter sentence. This part of their job depends on the details of your money laundering case and the evidence available.

Facing criminal charges can be stressful, and your lawyer will answer your questions, offer clear advice, and help you make informed decisions about your case.

Arrested? Contact a Money Laundering Attorney in Austin

If you're facing federal money laundering charges, you need legal help immediately. Cofer & Connelly, PLLC white collar crime lawyers understand your situation and are ready to assist. Our attorneys bring over 100 years of combined courtroom experience, having handled 25,000+ cases and over 300 jury trials across Texas. Knowing your rights and options is important. Contact us by calling (512) 991-0576 or reaching out online to discuss your case with a federal money laundering attorney. We will guide you through the legal process and strive for the best outcome in your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is money laundering?Money laundering is the act of making illegally obtained money appear legal by moving it through a series of transactions to hide its true source.

What are the penalties for money laundering?
Penalties can include fines up to $500,000 or twice the laundered amount, and imprisonment for up to 20 years.

Can I be charged with money laundering if I didn't know the money was illegal?
Knowing the money was from illegal activities is essential for a money laundering charge. Lack of knowledge may be a defense.

Can money laundering charges be reduced?
Charges can sometimes be reduced, especially with cooperation with authorities or if it's a first offense.

What is the role of a federal criminal defense lawyer in a money laundering case?
A defense lawyer protects your rights, builds a defense strategy, and defends you in court.

Can money laundering involve small amounts of money?
Yes, money laundering can involve any amount of money, not just large sums.

How is money laundering detected?
Authorities detect money laundering through unusual financial transactions, especially those without a clear purpose or benefit.

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