Money laundering is not a common crime, but it is a serious crime. Any money obtained through illegal means leaves a trail when it’s spent. If someone sells drugs for a living and doesn’t have an income on the books, yet they’re making top dollar purchases, this sets off federal alarm bells.
If you’re suspected of money laundering, it’s likely one of many crimes you’re being charged with. The laundering of the money is an issue, but so is the origin of that money. It was made doing something illegal. If you’re suspected of laundering, you’re also suspected of engaging in an illegally profitable activity.
The situation can become legally complicated very quickly. It’s important to understand what’s going on, how you should handle the situation, and where to get the legal help you need as quickly as possible.
What Arizona Law Deems Money Laundering
Arizona law is very thorough in describing what constitutes money laundering. You don’t actually have to be making money doing something illegal or directly laundering the money. You just have to be aware that money is being laundered through or around you or your business.
- Direct involvement with financial proceeds of racketeering. This can be making transfers, receiving or obtaining money, or concealing the origin of money obtained through criminal means.
- Allowing someone to use your business, your home, your bank account, or any other property clearly belonging to you for the purposes of racketeering. This usually means being “cut in” when someone else is actually laundering the money.
- Helping to falsify financial statements to conceal money laundering. Making fake customer invoices or spoofing receipts falls under this category.
- Failing to report financial transactions in an effort to hide laundering activity, or intentionally supplying false information about transactions.
- Hiding the identity or falsifying the identity of the people receiving money being laundered.
Any instance of attempting to make illegal income seem legitimate is money laundering. All aspects of laundering are considered to be crimes. Even if you were only aware of a laundering scheme and had minimal involvement in disguising the nature of people or transactions, you may still be charged with money laundering.
What Are The Penalties for Money Laundering?
Money laundering schemes often involve multiple people. The penalty depends on the individual’s involvement within the scheme. If someone only printed false receipts, their penalty will be less substantial than the person who ran the laundering operation.
Third degree money laundering is the charge typically handed out to those who had a role in helping with a scheme masterminded by another individual. Third degree money laundering is a class 6 felony and if convicted, you may face up to six years behind bars.
Second degree money laundering is a little more complicated. This is a class 3 felony charge that usually comes when the person involved is aware of a money laundering scheme or somehow profiting from it, even if they don’t manage it. Someone who allowed a money laundering scheme to be run through their business and received a payoff for doing so will typically be charged with second degree money laundering.
This is punishable by up to 8.75 years in prison, and there are special provisions for fines. If the scheme laundered more than $100,000 over a twelve month period, the individual convicted will be responsible for paying a fine that is three times the amount of the total sum of the money laundered.
First degree money laundering is a class 2 felony, and it’s subject to the same fine structure as second degree money laundering. The biggest difference is that the maximum prison sentence is 12.5 years. First degree money laundering is the charge typically handed to anyone who is perceived to have organized or managed a money laundering scheme.
What Happens When You’re Charged with Money Laundering?
Money laundering is often a federal crime.
In order to be convicted with money laundering, the prosecutor has to prove that you were aware that money laundering was taking place. If you had a crooked accountant working with two crooked salespeople under your nose, you may have never known that your business was being used to launder money. It appeared to you that your business (and you, by proxy) were profiting from the sale of legitimate products or services.
You shouldn’t be convicted of first degree money laundering simply for being a poor businessperson. Yes, it is your responsibility to understand your books and what your employees are doing. If they worked to deliberately mislead you, you certainly weren’t a part of their scheme.
Sometimes, illegal search can render the findings of investigators invalid. If they believe that they’ve uncovered a money laundering scheme, but did so by entrapping you or using other illegitimate methods to obtain evidence, this evidence can be discredited and dismissed. Lack of evidence can cause a case to close.
If you’re being charged with money laundering in addition to drug trafficking, illegal gambling activities, sale of stolen property, piracy, or any other crime that involves generating a profit, your case is a lot more complicated. You’ll need to work hard to prepare a defense that addresses every allegation.
Getting Adequate Legal Representation
Damianakos Law Firm serves clients in Tucson and all of Southern Arizona. With a background as a former prosecutor, Elias Damianakos is able to examine a case from all sides. This allows the Damianakos Law Firm to form a thorough and aggressive defense for every client who depends on us to see that justice is dealt properly.
If you’re being accused of money laundering and/or crimes associated with money laundering, call us right away. Don’t speak to anyone else. You have a right to an attorney, and we’re here to make sure you have one.