Being charged with money laundering can be overwhelming and lead you to wonder what steps you can take next to defend yourself. Money laundering is a serious offense that could lead to up to 50 years in a Louisiana state prison. You can also be charged with both Louisiana and federal laundering charges, which can double your sentence.
The consequences depend on the details of the case and the amount of allegedly laundered money. If you are being charged with money laundering, you don’t have to go through it alone. Hire an experienced money laundering defense attorney like those at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm who will defend you and protect your rights every step of the way.
What Is Money Laundering?
Money laundering covers any transactions that knowingly involve the proceeds of criminal activity. The money laundering process aims to make it seem like the money came from a legitimate source. It occurs in three steps:
- Placement: The illicit money is put into a bank account or business in increments to avoid detection.
- Layering: The illicit money is blended with legal money, after which it disappears in various transactions.
- Integration: The illicit money returns in a legitimate form. It is then used in investments.
Louisiana laws define money laundering as:
- Conducting, supervising, or facilitating financial transactions that involve money from criminal activities
- Transporting or transferring funds coming from criminal activities
- Trading monetary proceeds from crime in any way
- Getting or keeping an interest in, receiving, concealing, possessing, transferring, or transporting the proceeds of illegal activity
- Benefiting from proceeds of the intentional transacting of funds from criminal activity
- Using money from criminal transactions to conduct further investment, spending or receiving of said money, or offering to do these things.
You could be charged with money laundering if you helped with the process or oversaw the laundering operations, even if you didn’t participate in the exact transactions.
Penalties for Money Laundering
The penalty for money laundering in Louisiana is the same throughout the state. The sentences can be broken down according to the amount of laundered money in question, as follows:
- Less than $3,000: Misdemeanor money laundering. You may receive a penalty of less than six months in jail, or a fine of less than $1,000, or both.
- Between $3,000 and $20,000: Felony money laundering. Punishable with 2 to 10 years in prison. A fine of $10,000 or less may apply.
- Between $20,000 and $100,000: Felony money laundering with a penalty of 2 to 20 years in prison. A fine of $20,000 or less may apply.
- $100,000 or more: Felony money laundering. Punishment of 2 to 50 years in prison with a fine of $50,000 or less
You can be prosecuted by both Louisiana and federal governments for money laundering, for which you have to serve the given sentences from both parties. Partnering with a money laundering defense attorney may be able to help you reduce your charges and protect your rights.
Proving and Defending a Money Laundering Charge
To prove money laundering charges, the prosecution must show intent. It becomes difficult to prosecute if the defendant does not know the origin of the money. The prosecution must also prove that the money came from an illegal source. If the prosecutors cannot show these two elements, the charges against you may be reduced or dropped altogether.
Some of the other most common defenses against money laundering charges include the following:
- Lack of intent: The defense needs to prove that you did not know the origin of the money.
- Coercion under the threat of violence: If you or your family were being threatened, you should not be charged with the same crime as if you were willingly participating.
The best defense is to get a head start by hiring a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer may be able to get the case dismissed without going to trial.
Contact a Louisiana Money Laundering Defense Lawyer Today
The impact of money laundering charges can have devastating consequences on your reputation, job, and future in the community. Most money laundering crimes are in both federal and state jurisdiction, meaning they tend to carry double sentences. This is why it’s imperative to partner with a money laundering defense lawyer.
Eric G. Johnson is a seasoned defense attorney with a reputation for successfully representing his clients. His years as a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and that of Louisiana show his dedication to protecting the rights and future of his clients against serious charges.