Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara
Content last updated on: April 21, 2023
In Florida, money laundering is a very specific type of fraud offense which can be brought at the federal or state level. Sometimes, both state and federal prosecutors can take the defendant to court for essentially the same criminal infraction. Unlike other fraud cases, money laundering is essentially a transactional crime. The focus is on the criminal act, as opposed to the defendant’s intent. Therefore, many people face significant direct and collateral consequences even though their hearts were in the right place.
The diligent Orlando money laundering lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group always take things one step at a time in these cases. We never rush things in order to dispose of the case quickly. Instead, we carefully evaluate your case, since money laundering prosecutions have a number of moving parts. Once we identify the procedural or substantive weaknesses in the state’s case, we exploit these weaknesses, so we can obtain the best possible result under the circumstances.
Breaking Down the Offense
Section 896.101 of the Florida Statutes defines money laundering as “Knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity.” Federal law states that money laundering is conducting or attempting to conduct “a financial transaction, knowing that the property involved in the financial transaction represents the proceeds of some unlawful activity.”
Both state and federal prosecutions usually involve three criminal steps. First, the money launder takes possession of money as the result of criminal activity. Then, the defendant uses an intricate chain of transactions to conceal the money’s true source. Finally, the launderer re-assumes possession of the money, after it has been “cleaned.” Prosecutors normally must prove all three of these elements.
A money laundering conviction could mean substantial prison time. Additionally, prosecutors often aggressively use forfeiture laws to seize not only the disputed money, but also anything the defendant may have purchased with these funds.
How an Orlando Money Laundering Lawyer Can Help
Just as there are three steps to a money laundering prosecution, there are also three possible defenses.
Let’s start with criminal activity. If prosecutors cannot establish the essential elements of the crime, because of a procedural or substantive flaw, the money laundering prosecution cannot move forward. The same thing could happen if prosecutors cannot establish, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the defendant knew where the money came from.
As for the chain of transfers, people often transfer funds into different accounts for different reasons. These transfers, by themselves, are not criminal activities. Prosecutors must establish that the transaction chain was incredibly long or otherwise clearly designed to clean dirty money.
Finally, the ultimate destination of these funds is often a joint account or other account that the defendant does not exclusively control. Prosecutors could be hard-pressed to establish possession in these situations.
As for property which authorities seize under forfeiture laws, attorneys often negotiate buybacks in these situations. For example, if the police seize Mike’s car, he might pay a fraction of its fair market value to get it back. Prosecutors are usually motivated to make favorable deals in these situations, since the Supreme Court has sharply limited these practices.
Penalties for Money Laundering
There are two statutes under which a defendant may be charged for money laundering. The first is 18 U.S. Code § 1956. Under this statute, a defendant is charged with using illegal funds to further a criminal activity. They face up to 20 years in federal prison for each money laundering offense. And, fines for money laundering can total up to $500,000, or twice the value of the transaction money that was being illegally laundered. The other federal statute, 18 U.S. Code § 1957, charged those with up to 10 years behind bars if they engage in a transaction of $10,000 or more when those funds were derived from certain types of crimes.
Illegal Foreign Transactions are a Form of Money Laundering
The amount of money laundered internationally is estimated to be between two and five percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes. As such, the U.S. government cracks down on illegal foreign transactions, whether from inside the U.S. to another country, or from outside the U.S. to within. Not only is conducting or attempting to conduct an illegal money transaction considered an offense under the federal money laundering statute, but so too are the following acts:
Call an Orlando Money Laundering Defense Lawyer Today for Help
If you are facing any type of money laundering charge, you need to call an experienced attorney immediately. Call the O’Mara Law Group as soon as you can at 407-413-882 to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys have been representing clients in federal crime matters since 1982, and have the experience and clout to help set you free. For a confidential consultation with an experienced money laundering attorney in Orlando, contact the O’Mara Law Group, Attorneys at Law. After hours, virtual, and home visits are available.
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