For over a decade, Fresno money laundering attorney Mike McKneely has defended clients in the California court system. With experience as a former prosecutor, and years of experience defending others, Mike knows exactly where to look to find the facts to develop an effective defense in your case. Call Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today at (559) 443-7442 to request a free case evaluation, or contact us online.
The mere accusation of laundering money can seriously affect your reputation and potentially cause great damage to your career. It is very important to have a seasoned Fresno money laundering defense lawyer guide you through the next steps in the process of defending your property and your freedom.
Money laundering, the process of turning illegal cash profits into “legitimate” income, is punishable under federal and California law. Money laundering occurs after the commission of another crime. The offense is performed to take financial advantage of previous criminal activities. The person committing money laundering places the money or property gained through another crime into a financial transaction of some type. The attempt is to make the money appear to be legitimate and “clean”, rather than illegitimate and “dirty.”
Proof Required for Conviction
The elements of the crime of money laundering under California law require the prosecutor to prove the following:
1. You conducted or attempted to conduct a transaction through a financial institution
The types of banking transactions covered include:
- Withdrawing money
- Initiating an electronic or wire transfer
- Writing a check
- Making a deposit
- Exchanging money into a foreign currency
The transaction must involve a bank in order to be considered money laundering under California law.
2. You conducted a transaction or series of transactions that involved more than:
- $5,000 within a period of seven days
- $25,000 within a period of 30 days
3. You had knowledge of criminal activity connected with your transaction
- Knew that the money from the transaction originated from criminal activity, or
- Specifically intended to use the financial transaction to promote criminal activity
Penalties for Money Laundering in California
Prosecutors have discretion to charge your money laundering offense as a misdemeanor or a felony – this is referred to as a “wobbler” under California law. The facts of the case and your criminal history are generally used by the District Attorney to determine the level of charge to apply.
Misdemeanor penalties include:
- Up to one year in county jail; and/or
- Maximum $1,000 fine
Felony penalties include:
- Between 16 months to three years in the county prison; and/or
- Maximum $250,000 fine, or two times the amount of money laundered (whichever is greater)
- If you have a previous conviction for laundering money, the maximum fine increases to $500,000, or five times the amount of money laundered (whichever is greater)
Prison sentences for this crime increase as the amount of money laundered increases.
Depending on how you obtained the money, you may be required to pay restitution to your victims for the laundered funds.
Money Laundering as a Federal Offense
When the laundering of money involves interstate commerce, the crime may also be charged as a federal offense.
Collateral Consequences of a Conviction
Beyond the penalties stated above, there will likely be other consequences after a conviction. These may include losing your driver’s license, losing the ability to retain professional licenses, loss of federal benefits, restrictions on your right to possess weapons, immigration status changes, loss of previous child custody arrangements, and a ban on contracting with the government.
Possible Legal Defenses
If you are currently charged with the crime of money laundering, an experienced Fresno criminal attorney can examine your case with an eye to effectively employing the right legal defenses on your behalf. Potentially, your charges could be reduced or even erased. If the case goes to trial, a skillful lawyer may be able to win it under the right circumstances, but certainly, make sure the court hears all of the facts in your favor.
Some of the defenses that may apply to your specific situation include:
- You did not have specific intent to encourage or support the criminal activity
- You did not know you were handling money that came from illegal activity
- The quantity of funds you allegedly laundered was not greater than the minimum amounts designated by California law
- Police searches or conduct in connection with your case is suspect or under question.
Talk to a Fresno Money Laundering Attorney Today
Fresno money laundering attorney Michael McKneely understands the difficult situation you are facing now if you’ve been charged with the crime of laundering money. He is a highly capable defense attorney who also possesses prosecutorial experience. He can lay out an effective defense to your charges in order to help you obtain the best possible outcome. He will show you the best legal options available and work vigorously to defend your rights and protect your freedom.
Call Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today at (559) 443-7442 to set up a free consultation. If you’re facing money laundering charges in California, preserve your legal rights by contacting us right away. Fresno criminal defense attorney Michael McKneely has been on both sides of the criminal justice system, so he knows what to expect and how to make the process easier for you.