It’s common knowledge that when someone gets a lot of cash from illegal activities, they may need to launder the money in order to make it appear legitimate before they deposit it in the bank or spend it. That being said, Vista fraud lawyer Peter Liss says most people don’t really understand money laundering beyond the basic concept. Here’s a little more about how money laundering works and the criminal charge in California.
What is Money Laundering?
Most people at least understand that money laundering doesn’t involve washing cash but finding a way to make illegally-earned funds seem legitimate. This can be done in a number of ways. A great example of money laundering is the way Skyler uses the car wash in Breaking Bad. She takes the cash Walt made from drug dealing, creates fraudulent receipts for cash purchases at the car wash and then adds the cash to the cash register as though it was earned legitimately through the business. This way the cash can be added to her and Walt’s bank accounts and spent like any other legitimate income.
Vista fraud defense attorneys point out that money laundering can be done on a major scale or a very small scale depending on the amount of cash that needs to be legitimized and the assets of those doing the money laundering. Additionally, while some criminals launder their own money, others go through individuals or groups that specialize in money laundering. In the later cases, money laundering could be the only charges brought up, but in the majority of cases, people face money laundering charges on top of charges related to the crimes they committed to get the money.
Penalties for Money Laundering
Money laundering can be charged at a federal or state level. In California, it can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalty is a maximum of one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. If it is charged as felony, it can carry a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine of either $250,000 or twice the amount of the money laundered, whichever is greater.
It can be difficult to prove money laundering charges, which is why police and prosecutors will often try to get suspects to confess by lying about evidence. This is why you should never speak to investigators without your Vista money laundering defense attorney present.
It’s worth noting that San Diego prosecutors frequently charge people who are in possession of large amounts of cash without explanation with the felony of not having a money transaction license. This allows them to avoid having to prove actual money laundering took place. They also use this as a means of seizing and forfeiting the cash.
If you have been charged with money laundering or any related crime, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Vista fraud crimes lawyer Peter M. Liss.
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