Money laundering is a significantly illegal crime and consists of making “dirty” money or income “clean” by sifting it through various phases of seemingly legitimate business transactions. Payment can include income from drug trafficking, embezzlement, insider trading, prostitution, and more. The idea is to disguise significant amounts of revenue as legitimate sources of income by “laundering” it through various sources.
In many cases, criminals will choose to own a legitimate business and use this as their “front” for the income they are receiving. For example, a business owner of a car wash or barber shop also deals drugs or engages in other illegal activity. They may choose to inflate their daily records of income received by including some of the “dirty” money from selling drugs to launder it and make it appear as legitimate income.
What is the Process of Money Laundering?
There are typically three stages of the money laundering process. The first is placement, which includes filtering the funds to a legitimate financial system, such as a profit and loss or income sheet. In the example above, the owner of the car wash or barber shop is integrating the “dirty” money into his legitimate business through the placement phase.
Layering is the second typical phase of money laundering. It typically involves a series of transactions or bookkeeping tricks, “layering” the funds to make them less obvious to attract less attention. The launderer may choose to disguise the transfer of funds as a payment for goods and services. They may also move funds to several bank accounts around the globe to disperse significant amounts of cash and utilize banks throughout the world to hide their tracks.
The third phase is integration, where the launderer then takes those illegitimate funds to purchase luxury assets, real estate, and more business ventures or simply withdraws the cash and uses it after it has been “laundered” through these various avenues.
Federal Money Laundering Statute
Along with each state having its laws regarding money laundering, the federal money laundering statute also applies. If specific criminal acts are involved, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, murder and other violent crimes, certain types of bank fraud, and more, it can be considered a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Penalties may include fines of up to $500,000 or more, depending on the value of the funds involved, and up to 20 years in prison.
How Does Florida View Money Laundering?
Several transactions can be classified as money laundering in the state of Florida. They include loans, monetary gifts, wire transfers, sales, purchases, investments, or currency exchanges, and in some cases, transferring the title of vehicles or property.
The penalties vary and are based on the total value that is involved in laundering.
A third-degree felony is imposed when the value of transactions is between $300 and $20,000 and took place in the last twelve months. Third-degree felonies can result in up to five years in prison and other penalties.
A second-degree felony is imposed when the value of transactions is between $20,000 and $100,000 within the last twelve months. Up to 15 years in prison and other penalties may result.
A first-degree felony occurs when the value of transactions is more than $100,000 and took place in the last twelve months. Up to 30 years in prison and other penalties may result.
The state may impose an additional fine that can be as high as $250,000 or twice the amount value of the money laundered as well.
What is the Statute of Limitations on Money Laundering in Miami?
The statute of limitations follows the federal standard regarding money laundering, which is five years. This can result in the criminal getting away with their illegal actions depending on the circumstances if it has crossed the five-year threshold since the crimes were confirmed.
Florida has the option of tolling the statute of limitations if the defendant is out of state, which means that they can stop the clock on the time limit for the statute and increase the limit from five years in some cases.
How Can Piotrowski Law Help?
We have a team of experienced attorneys to roll their sleeves and fight for your rights. We understand how fearful you may be whether the charges against you are on a misdemeanor or a felony level. We have combined decades of experience in criminal defense law, and we are confident in our ability to protect you and your family.
You don’t have to feel like you don’t have an adequate defense in a money laundering charge. We can look at all angles using our years of experience and formulate a strategy that produces a less scary outcome for you. You don’t have to face this alone, and you don’t have to give up hope.
Working with an attorney with vast knowledge of criminal defense law is imperative. Call our offices today for a free consultation at (305) 204-5000. We will compassionately listen to the details of your case and work with you to walk you through the process and become a fierce advocate for you and your family.