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, San Diego criminal defense lawyer Peter Liss says most people don’t really understand this charge 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 laundering money 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 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.
A money laundering lawyer in San Diego will be quick to point out that this 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 activity. Additionally, while some criminals launder their own money, others go through individuals or groups that specialize in making illegitimately earned funds seem less suspicious. In the later cases, money laundering could be the only charges brought up, but in the majority of cases, people face these charges on top of others related to the illegal activities they committed to get the money.
Money Laundering Penalties in California
Money laundering can be filed 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 filed 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 you have been accused of laundering, whichever is greater.
It can be difficult to prove guilt in money laundering cases, 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 San Diego 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. It’s worth mentioning that if you win your case, any money seized must be returned to you.
If you have been accused of money laundering or any related crime, please call (760) 643-4050 today to schedule a free consultation with a top Money laundering attorney in San Diego like Peter M. Liss.
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