Although most people associate ransom demands with tv crime dramas and films, the reality is that many people are unfairly charged with this offense every year. This is because both state and federal law criminalize not only the ransom demand itself, but also the possession, disposal, transportation, or receiving of any money or property that has been delivered as part of a ransom. In fact, even attempting to take part in one of these financial transactions is unlawful. Those who are convicted of demanding, receiving, or possessing ransom money could end up spending as much as ten years in prison and paying a $10,000 fine, so if you have been accused of possessing property or funds that were used in a ransom transaction, it is critical to retain an experienced white collar crime attorney who is well-versed in federal law and who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Under federal law, it is unlawful to dispose of, possess, conceal, distribute, or receive any money or other property that was previously delivered as part of a ransom or reward once it has crossed state boundaries. However, before a person can be convicted of this offense, prosecutors must be able to establish that the defendant knew about the money’s unlawful origins. This is also true of prosecutions involving the transportation, transmission, or transfer of kidnapping proceeds in interstate or foreign commerce. In the latter case, defendants who are convicted will not face the maximum ten years imprisonment, but could still end up spending up to a year in jail.
Florida law also prohibits transactions involving the proceeds of an unlawful activity. This includes initiating, concluding, or participating in the transfer, delivery, or disposition of kidnapping proceeds. Like federal law, Florida’s statute requires proof that the defendant knew that the transaction involved the proceeds of felonious activity and that he or she:
- Intended to promote or carry on that unlawful activity; or
- Knew that the financial transaction was designed at least in part to conceal the nature of the unlawfully obtained proceeds or to avoid a transaction reporting requirement.
Even attempting to engage in a financial transaction or to transport funds that are made up in whole or in part of the proceeds of a kidnapping is unlawful and is considered a second degree felony, which is punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison. Because the stakes are so high in these types of cases, it is critical for those who have been accused of transporting, possessing, or receiving a ransom to speak with an attorney who can represent their interests in court.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Miami White Collar Crime Lawyer
To speak with an attorney about your own pending white collar crime charges, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys in Miami at 305-670-9919 today. A member of our dedicated legal team is standing by to help you schedule a free case evaluation at your earliest convenience.