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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

Possible defenses for money laundering charges

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2022 | White Collar Crimes |

Money laundering is both a state and a federal crime. Therefore, you face severe penalties when being tried for these charges. Here is a look at the top defenses for money laundering charges that can help to protect your rights.

Absence of intent to commit the crime

Money laundering occurs when you intentionally misrepresent your financial records. It entails making it look like your business received assets or funds from legal activities when the opposite is true.

However, you may argue that any illegal proceedings were unintentional mistakes. You will have to prove that you were unaware of any illegal activities that brought funds to your business. In addition, the accurate recording of illegally obtained funds doesn’t necessarily mean you were aware of any illegal activities.

The evidence was illegally obtained

You cannot be convicted of money laundering if the authorities violated your rights in the process of charging you. If the evidence against you was obtained illegally, it is not admissible in court and barred from being shown to the jury.

Law enforcement officers need to obey the law when obtaining evidence. For instance, a business’s accounting books are not admissible as evidence if the officials didn’t have a warrant when seizing them. This would be considered a violation of your fourth amendment rights.

You were under duress

You may also argue that you filtered illegally obtained money because a third party threatened you. This could be threats of physical violence or any other consequences. Having to commit a crime under durress may help clear you of money laundering charges. In some cases, you may argue that you are a victim of extortion if someone threatened your life or that of a loved one.


Although mostly used as a defense in drug trafficking cases, entrapment can also be a useful defense when it comes to money laundering charges. It is a viable defense if you can prove that you engaged in the act as a direct result of encouragement or inducement by government authorities.

The court will evaluate will then entrapment argument based on the official’s actions. They may also consider events leading to the crime and the defendant’s testimony. This will make it possible to establish whether the officer’s actions may have inspired a typically law-abiding citizen to commit the crime of money laundering.