Money Laundering in California

Money Laundering

You may think of money laundering as a movie trope which is very rare in real life. However, it happens more than you may know. If you are accused of money laundering, there are a few things you should know about this crime before you proceed.

First of all, find a skilled legal representative, like to help you and explain the basics. You will need to tell your attorney everything in order to get the best possible help from them. So, here are the basics about money laundering in California.

What Is Money Laundering

If you are unsure what money laundering is, it is the process of entering money gained through criminal activities (or any other illegal way) into the legal channels to make it appear legitimate and make determining its origins impossible.

Typically, it requires a business which acts as an intermediary between the criminal organization and the banks. Depending on the severity of your involvement in the money laundering scheme, you may be facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge.

Money Laundering From Drug Trade

California law recognizes two different kinds of money laundering, which are governed by different laws. The first and most prevalent type of money laundering comes from the illegal drugs trade. It is regulated by the Health and Safety Code, Section 11370.9 which elaborates how it is illegal to receive any money that you know comes from drug sales in order to conceal the origin of that money.

What that means for the prosecutors is that they have to prove several things in order to get a conviction. First of all, they need to prove that you are involved with the money and that you were aware of the illegal origin of the money. Next, they need proof that the money which is being laundered came from the drug trade. Furthermore, they need to prove that the money was intentionally committed as a means of concealing the illegal origins.

Money Laundering From Other Sources

On the other hand, if the problematic money did not come from drug money, but is still related to crime and has illegal origins, California criminal law has the Penal Code section 186.10 covering it. It is very specific and it requires at least one transaction of a certain value to be entered into at least one financial institution with the knowledge that it comes from an illegal source.

The prosecutor needs to be able to ascertain that the defendant has tried to conduct at least one financial transaction with the money that they knew came from illegal and criminal activities.

Misdemeanor Money Laundering

The milder form of money laundering may land you up to one year in a county jail, as well as a fine of $1000. This penalty is largely the same both for the drug related and the other type of money laundering.

Felony Money Laundering

On the other hand, felony charges are somewhat different for the two types of money laundering. The defendant accused of drug-related money laundering is facing prison time in a state prison of two, three or four years, as well as a monetary fine of a maximum of $250,000 or double the amount of money as they have laundered, whichever is bigger.

Money laundering not related to drugs is somewhat milder when it comes to prison time because sentences range from 16 months to three years, but the financial aspect of the sentence is the same. There are some aggravating circumstances as well. If that is not the first conviction for money laundering, the defendant faces a $500,000 fine or 5 times the amount of money they laundered. If the amount of money laundered exceeds $2,500,000, four years are added to the prison sentence.

Money laundering is considered a serious crime because it enables other, more serious, kinds of crimes to continue. If you are facing this kind of charge, you had best find yourself a good legal help like a money laundering lawyer to help you.