While most people have heard of money laundering, most do not know what these charges entail or their potential consequences. While money laundering may seem like it will only involve large sums of money, the fact is that money laundering can involve even a single transaction.
What is money laundering?
The FBI defines money laundering as a process that attempts to hide the illegal origins of funds through funneling the money into a legitimate business or fraudulent record-keeping. Money laundering can be linked to a wide variety of different criminal activities, including embezzlement, drug trafficking, illegal gambling or fraud.
While the funds being laundered have illegal origins, the people accused of money laundering do not have to be involved in the money’s criminal origins. They must only knowingly engage in a transaction with funds that were illegally acquired.
What are the penalties for money laundering?
Because money laundering is a felony charge, the consequences can be severe and depend on the value of the money or property involved in the charges. The state of Missouri punishes money laundering convictions with between 5 and 15 years in prison. The court will also order people convicted of this crime to pay fines of double the amount of money involved in the charges or up to $500,000, whichever is greater.
Because of the severity of these charges, it is important that those accused of money laundering speak with a criminal defense attorney that has experience in these complex cases. If you are being investigated for money laundering, your lawyer can create a legal strategy that defends your rights. They can fight back against these charges, argue for reduced sentencing or potentially have the charges dropped entirely.