Federal and state prosecutors take money laundering seriously. A conviction can lead to imprisonment, fines, and collateral damage to your reputation. With so much at stake, having an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential. That’s where Benjamin Law Firm comes in. As a leading Texas criminal defense practice, we have extensive experience handling money-laundering cases.
We understand the complex nature of these charges and what it takes to protect your rights and freedom. When you work with us, we will weigh the evidence against you and choose the best line of defense. You can be confident in our proven track record of success defending clients in state and federal court. Contact our El Paso office today for a consultation.
About Money Laundering in Texas
Under Texas law, money laundering involves knowingly conducting or facilitating financial transactions involving the proceeds of criminal activity. This offense occurs when someone intentionally conceals the nature, source, ownership, or control of illicit funds in order to make them appear legitimate. Money laundering can involve various illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, fraud, corruption, or organized crime.
The Three Phases of Money Laundering:
Money laundering typically occurs in three phases:
- Placement – During the placement phase, illicit funds are introduced into the legitimate financial system. Offenders may use methods like structuring cash deposits into multiple accounts or purchasing assets with illicit proceeds. The goal is to obscure the money’s source and avoid detection by authorities.
- Layering – Next, the illicit funds are transferred through a series of complex transactions to obscure their source and make tracing difficult. This may involve transferring funds through multiple accounts, conducting various transactions, or investing in numerous assets across multiple jurisdictions. The aim is to create multiple layers of transactions to complicate the audit trail and deter law enforcement.
- Integration – Finally, the “laundered” money is reintroduced into the economy as seemingly legitimate funds through investments in legal businesses, purchasing real estate, or engaging in other financial activities. The goal is to make the illicit proceeds indistinguishable from legally obtained funds.
Texas Money Laundering Penalties
Money laundering is always considered a felony in Texas, but the penalties depend on the amount of money laundered:
- State Jail Felony: If the value of the illicit funds is between $2,500 and $30,000, the offense is considered a state jail felony. Penalties may include imprisonment in a state jail for up to two years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-Degree Felony: If the value of the illicit funds is between $30,000 and $150,000, the offense is classified as a third-degree felony. A conviction for a third-degree felony can result in a prison term ranging from two to ten years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Second-Degree Felony: Money laundering involving funds between $150,000 and $300,000 is considered a second-degree felony. A conviction carries a prison sentence of two to twenty years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony: If the amount of money laundered was $300,000 or more, you will be charged with a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies are punishable by five to 99 years in prison and a maximum of $10,000.
Federal Money Laundering Charges
Money laundering can also be prosecuted at the federal level. Under federal law, money laundering is primarily governed by the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and the Money Laundering Control Act (MLCA). These laws aim to prevent the flow of illicit funds through financial institutions and transactions. A federal money-laundering conviction can result in significant fines and lengthy prison sentences. The penalties vary depending on the amount of money involved and the specific offense.
For instance, under 18 U.S.C. § 1956, the basic money-laundering offense, penalties can include fines of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to 20 years.
Moreover, if the money-laundering offense is connected to certain specified unlawful activities, such as drug trafficking, alien (smuggling/ transporting/ harboring) or terrorism, the penalties can be even more severe. In such cases, individuals convicted of federal money-laundering offenses may face fines of up to $1 million or twice the value of the property involved, and imprisonment of up to life.
How Benjamin Law Firm Can Help
Once you become our client, you can trust our experienced money laundering defense attorneys to protect your rights and mount a strong defense. We will thoroughly examine the evidence, challenge the legality of any searches or seizures, and explore all potential defenses. These include:
- Lack of knowledge or intent – demonstrating that you were unaware of the illicit nature of the funds or lacked the intent to commit money laundering.
- Insufficient evidence – challenging the prosecution’s case by scrutinizing the evidence and identifying any weaknesses or inconsistencies.
- Procedural errors – examining the procedures followed by law enforcement and the prosecution to identify any violations that could lead to the dismissal of charges.
- Lack of financial transactions – demonstrating the prosecution cannot establish a clear paper trail or financial transactions linking you to money laundering.
- Constitutional challenges – exploring any constitutional issues surrounding the investigation, such as violations of due process, or the right to counsel.
- Entrapment – asserting that you were coerced or induced by law enforcement to commit the money laundering offense.
At Benjamin Law Firm, we will leverage our in-depth knowledge of money laundering laws and experience in criminal defense to build a tailored strategy. Above all, we are dedicated to exploring all available options and protecting your rights and freedom.
Talk To An Experienced Texas Money Laundering Defense Attorney Today!
Money laundering charges in Texas and at the federal level are complex and carry severe penalties. Our skilled money laundering defense attorney will work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.