White Collar Crime: Money Laundering

February 20th, 2015 by Tad Nelson in White Collar Crime

Discussing white-collar crime in general terms can be difficult because there are many definitions of it and it includes many different types of crimes. As a result, it is easier to begin understanding white-collar crime by discussing specific crimes that fall under its umbrella. Here, we will discuss money laundering. Generally speaking, money laundering involves attempting to make money obtained by illegal means appear to be obtained by legitimate means.

Money Laundering in Texas

Under Texas law, money laundering is committed if a person:

  1. Possesses or transfers the proceeds of criminal activity;
  2. Oversees a transaction involving the proceeds of criminal activity;
  3. Invests, expends, or receives proceeds of criminal activity or funds the person believes are proceeds of criminal activity; or
  4. Finances or invests funds believed to further the commission of criminal activity.

The definition of money laundering covers a wide range of actions. As a result, a person involved with money that has a connection to criminal activity has the possibility of being investigated and/or charged with money laundering.

Defenses

The Texas money laundering statute describes some specific defenses against this charge. However, it should be noted that these are not the only defenses available. If you are facing a money laundering charge, your attorney will discuss defense options that are based on the specific facts of your situation.

The first listed defense is if the person acted with the “intent to facilitate the lawful seizure, forfeiture, or disposition of funds or other legitimate law enforcement purpose.” The second is if the transfer of money was necessary in order for the person to obtain legal representation as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Finally, a licensed attorney may receive funds if they are for legitimate legal fees and the attorney was not aware the funds came from criminal activity.

Penalties

The penalties for money laundering are as follows:

  • a state jail felony if the value of the funds are between $1,500 and $20,000;
  • a third degree felony if the value of the funds are between $20,000 and $100,000;
  • a second degree felony if the value of the funds are between $100,000 and $200,000; or
  • a first-degree felony if the value of the funds are greater than $200,000.

It is important to note that, as with most white-collar crime, it is possible to be prosecuted federally for money laundering. The federal definition of money laundering is very broad, covering several activities. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §1956, the federal penalties may include a fine of up to $500,000 or double the amount laundered, whichever is greater, and imprisonment for up to 20 years.

Contact a Houston Defense Attorney

Money laundering is one of many white-collar crimes. Each contains a great deal of complexity, which often results in lengthy investigations. If you are under investigation or have already been charged for any white-collar crime, you should contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates as soon as possible. We have the experience in these matters to help you obtain the best possible outcome.

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