Tampa Money Laundering Lawyer
Money laundering is the term used for taking illegally obtained proceeds and running them through a legitimate business. In this way, the stain of criminality gets washed away, and criminals can now use their illegally-obtained proceeds as if they are legitimate funds.
A classic example of money laundering is using a restaurant as a “front” for an illegal drug smuggling that takes place in the back rooms. The criminals attribute all proceeds to the restaurant, laundering them in the process.
Money laundering carries serious penalties, so anyone accused of this crime must hire the right Tampa money laundering lawyer to represent them. The O’Mara Law Group can help.
Money Laundering Penalties
Money laundering charges are almost always brought along with charges for conduct that resulted in the illegal proceeds in the first place. There are two federal statutes in play:
- 18 U.S. Code § 1956. A defendant faces up to 20 years in prison, along with fines, if they used illegal funds in furtherance of any crime.
- 18 U.S. Code § 1957. A defendant faces up to 10 years in prison if they engage in a transaction worth at least $10,000 when the funds were obtained from certain criminal activity.
Remember, these penalties will be added onto the penalties for the underlying criminal offense. Someone charged with drug smuggling could face decades in jail and exorbitant fines.
The Knowledge Requirement
Many innocent people can get swept up in a government money laundering sting. They think they are working for a legitimate business when, in fact, the business acts as a front for illegal activity.
Consider the restaurant example above. Anyone who handles money at the restaurant could potentially be charged with money laundering and other crimes if they furthered the illegal activity taking place in the back room. Someone might think she was serving as the hostess for a legitimate business when, in fact, federal crimes were being committed mere yards away.
Fortunately, any prosecution for money laundering requires that the defendant “know” they were laundering money. This knowledge requirement is key. If you were completely unaware that the money you handled was illegally obtained, then you can’t be convicted of money laundering.
Increasingly, money laundering crosses international borders. Money or funds get transferred into the United States or get sent abroad with the intent of concealing it from government authorities. This is also a form of money laundering, and the federal government aggressively pursues it.
If your business has foreign affiliates, or if you do business with foreign entities, you must carefully handle all transferred funds. Any failure to report them could be grounds for criminal charges.
Contact Our Tampa Money Laundering Attorneys Today
If you are facing money laundering charges, you should hire a lawyer right away. Please contact O’Mara Law Group. Our firm has more than three decades of experience defending people accused of crimes, and we would be happy to meet with you for a free consultation.