Federal and State Money Laundering Crimes
Although charges of money laundering in Florida and at the federal level are similar, there are some important distinctions between the two that could play an important role in formulating a strong defense. For an explanation of Florida white collar crime and federal money laundering crimes, please contact our Miami federal crime legal team today.
Florida Money Laundering Offenses
Under state law, money laundering is defined as one or a series of financial transactions that are used to conceal proceeds generated through any type of criminal activity. Fortunately, a person can only be convicted of money laundering in Florida if prosecutors can prove that the defendant knew about:
- The underlying criminal activity; or
- The unlawful source of the funds.
Furthermore, prosecutors must also demonstrate that the defendant knew that the financial transaction was intended to protect illegally gained proceeds. These knowledge requirements are extremely important in any state money laundering trial, as a lack of knowledge can result in a dismissal of charges or a verdict of not guilty. It’s also important to note that in Florida, the state often adds racketeering charges or other allegations related to organized crime when charging someone for money laundering, which could add many years to any resulting prison sentences.
Federal Money Laundering Charges
Federal money laundering charges, are often filed in addition to or in place of state charges. Like charges filed by Florida prosecutors, when accusing someone of money laundering in federal court, prosecutors are also required to provide evidence that a defendant knew that the property involved in the transaction was the proceeds of unlawful activity. However, unlike state law, federal law also requires proof that the property was in fact derived from one of a few specific unlawful activities, including:
- Drug trafficking;
- Violent crimes;
- Human trafficking;
- Bank fraud; and
- Bribery of a public official.
The government must also prove that a defendant intended to:
- Promote the carrying on of one of these specific criminal activities;
- Commit tax evasion or tax fraud;
- Conceal the nature of the money’s source; or
- Avoid a transaction reporting requirement.
These elements, which require prosecutors to prove that funds were derived from one of a few different criminal activities and demonstrate that a defendant had a specific intent, make it much more difficult to be convicted of money laundering in federal court than in state court. This is fortunate for those who have been unfairly accused of this crime, as the penalties for violating federal money laundering laws are steep, requiring convicted defendants to spend up to 20 years in federal prison and pay up to $500,000, or twice the amount that was allegedly laundered in fines. These penalties become even more severe for those who are charged in both state and federal court.
Legal Assistance Defending Against Your Federal Charges
If you have been charged with money laundering in either state or federal court, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys in Miami at 305-670-9919 to speak with a dedicated federal crime attorney about your legal options.