Experienced Money Laundering Defense Attorneys in Tampa, Florida
Money laundering consists of financial transactions which are designed to hide the criminal character of the funds used. A common scheme involves taking the “dirty” proceeds from illegal activity and then “laundering” them by passing them through a legitimate business. Think of a dry cleaner which runs a drug operation from the back room. Any proceeds are credited to laundry as legitimate income. If you are suspected of this crime, contact a Tampa money laundering lawyer today for a confidential consultation.
Since 1977, Trombley & Hanes, P.A., and its trusted Tampa criminal defense lawyers have provided full-service state and federal legal defense strategies for individuals and businesses in Florida and throughout the U.S. — including those charged with money laundering.
Money laundering is disguising the origin of illegally obtained money, typically using transfers through legitimate businesses or foreign banks, and can be either a federal or a state offense. Like other criminal charges, federal penalties can be more severe.
If you are being investigated for or have been charged with money laundering, chances are it is only one of many charges the state prosecutor or U.S. Attorney has brought against you. Money laundering is often connected to other crimes like drug trafficking, embezzlement, racketeering, and bank fraud, to name a few, which allows the prosecution to “pile on” while seeking substantial penalties against the accused.
If you face significant criminal charges for money laundering, we will outline the charges, evidence, and case details that will allow you to understand the reality of your legal circumstances to make informed decisions about your future.
Our Florida money laundering defense attorneys in Tampa provide our clients with legal insight and practical advice bolstered by our intrepid team with over 110 years of combined skill and dynamic legal experience to produce actual results for your case.
How is Money Laundering Defined?
Money laundering can be pursued by both state prosecutors and federal U.S. Attorneys.
The Florida Money Laundering Act, found in Section 896.101 of the Florida Statutes, penalizes individuals or organizations that use financial transactions to hide the proceeds of unlawful activities conducted in Florida.
The act defines money laundering as:
- Knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents some form of illegal activity.
- Conducting or intending to conduct financial transactions with the proceeds of that activity.
The Federal Money Laundering Control Act made money laundering a federal crime. The act’s purpose was to make it a federal offense to hide and reinvest illegal profits from a criminal enterprise. The act targets conduct that occurs after the underlying crime and is not intended to be an alternative means of punishing the crime itself.
It created liability for any individual who conducts a monetary transaction knowing that the funds were derived through unlawful activity.
The act also prohibited structuring transactions to evade Currency Transaction Report (CTR) filings and introduced civil and criminal forfeiture for Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) violations.
The act targets criminal offenders directly by prohibiting money laundering and transacting funds derived from “specified unlawful activity,” a predicate crime. It is not an enforcement tool commonly used against financial institutions subject to the BSA.
In simpler terms, money laundering involves taking the “dirty” proceeds from illegal activity and then “laundering” them by passing them through a legitimate business.
Prosecutors and U.S. Attorneys typically bring money laundering charges against individuals and charges for the underlying criminal activity to seek maximum sentences and increase their conviction rate. However, the federal statute requires that defendants know the proceeds are from criminal illegality and must prove this element beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction.
Contact our skilled money laundering defense lawyers in Tampa today to understand the reality of your charges and how we can help.
What are the Penalties for Money Laundering?
Money laundering is a felony offense, and the severity of the charges depends on the value of the transaction.
Penalties for violating Florida Statute 896.101 include:
- $300 but less than $20,000 is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
- $20,000 or more but less than $100,000 is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
- $100,000 or more is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
In addition, a person who is convicted of money laundering may be required to pay a fine not greater than $250,000, or twice the value of the transactions, whichever is more. If the defendant has prior convictions, the penalty can be as much as $500,000, or five times the value of the transactions.
The penalties for violating the Federal Money Laundering Statutes 18 U.S.C. § 1956 and 18 U.S.C. § 1957 including:
- 18 U.S.C. § 1956: A fine of up to $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering, whichever is greater.
- 18 U.S.C. § 1957: A fine of up to $250,000.
- 18 U.S.C. § 1956: Up to 20 years in federal prison.
- 18 U.S.C. § 1957: Up to 10 years in prison.
- 18 U.S.C. § 1956: Property involved in the money laundering is subject to confiscation.
- 18 U.S.C. § 1957: Property involved in the monetary transaction is subject to confiscation.
In some cases, civil penalties are also imposed. The government can seize or freeze assets such as cash, bank accounts, real estate, automobiles, or other property connected to a criminal entity are subject to forfeiture.
Partnering with a skilled money laundering criminal defense team can mean the difference between freedom and incarceration. We can help protect your best interests from the start of your case.
Examples of Tampa Money Laundering
The Money Laundering Control Act can be found at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956 and 1957. This law criminalizes a wide range of activities:
- Currency smuggling to foreign countries. Mules will carry cash in bulk to a foreign country where it is then converted into a different currency and possibly deposited in a foreign bank. After the passage of time, criminals then transfer the money to the U.S. so they can spend it.
- Cryptocurrency transactions. Digital currencies like Bitcoin have increased in popularity recently. Many criminals will convert illegal proceeds to crypto and then make trades or purchases using the currency.
- Buying assets with illegal proceeds. Someone might use funds to buy real estate before selling it.
- Working with a complicit bank to hide the illegality of the funds. Banks typically must report large transactions, but a bank might decline if key players are in on the scheme.
18 U.S.C. 1957 also makes it illegal to knowingly engage in a financial transaction worth at least $10,000 when the defendant knows the funds or property was criminally obtained. For example, you can’t sell something to a drug kingpin if you know he is using proceeds from his deals.
Money Laundering Charges are Popular with Tampa Prosecutors
Prosecutors typically bring money laundering charges along with charges for the underlying criminal activity, such as drug trafficking. But prosecutors also like to bring these charges so that they can seek maximum sentences if the defendant is convicted.
Each money laundering conviction can result in 20 years behind bars and a substantial fine, up to twice the amount laundered or $500,000. And this is for one act of money laundering. Someone convicted of participating in a large scheme will likely have multiple counts and could face life in prison.
We Defend against Tampa Money Laundering Charges
Some people innocently get caught up in money laundering because they are unaware that they are handling dirty proceeds. For example, someone working as a desk clerk in a laundry might have no idea that a drug ring is running out of the back of the building. They transfer money in and out of the register thinking it is clean.
Our Attorney Also Focus on the Following Areas:-
- Bank Fraud
- CARES Act Fraud Defense
- COVID-19 Fraud Defense
- COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Fraud
- Defense Contract Fraud
- Government Fraud
- Immigration Violations
- Tax Fraud
- Pharmaceutical Company Opioid Litigation
- Doctor & Pharmacy Opioid Litigation
- PPP Loan Fraud Defense
Fortunately, the federal statute requires that defendants know the proceeds are from criminal activity, and prosecutors must prove this element beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. Often prosecutors rely on witnesses who participated in the scheme and probably lack credibility. Trombley & Hanes has represented business executives and others against money laundering charges.
Contact Our Dedicated Money Laundering Defense Attorneys in Tampa, Florida, for Help Today
When facing money laundering charges and the potential consequences of a conviction, you need a skilled Tampa criminal defense lawyer from the beginning. Do not let state or federal law enforcement intimidate you. Contact our trusted criminal defense lawyers in Florida, who have produced actual results for real people for over 110 combined years.
Frequently Asked Questions for Our Money Laundering Defense Attorneys in Tampa, Florida
What are the Most Common Signs of Money Laundering?
Financial institutions use various techniques to detect money laundering, including transaction monitoring, suspicious activity reports, and customer due diligence. They also rely on software and algorithms to identify unusual patterns in financial transactions.
What are the Most Common Defense Strategies for Money Laundering Charges?
All criminal cases are unique, including those involving money laundering. The legal defense strategies associated with each case will depend on the person, the amount of money, and the circumstances surrounding the charges. Some common defense strategies may include but are not limited to lack of knowledge, and insufficient evidence.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Money Laundering Charges?
A five-year criminal statute of limitations applies to all money laundering violations.
Why are Innocent People and Business Owners Charged with Money Laundering?
Individuals and businesses that do not conduct proper due diligence on their customers, partners, and transactions are often unaware of red flags indicating money laundering and suspicious financial activities. The federal statute requires that defendants know the proceeds are from criminal activity and must prove this element beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction.