How to Build a Solid Money Laundering Defense

man holding cash

If you own a business, then a day may come where some less than reputable people could present you with a proposition in which you can help then and possibly get paid to do so. This is typically not something you want to agree to, but sometimes aren’t given the choice.

If you accept, there could be a day very soon or very far into the future where the police bust down your door and place you under arrest for money laundering, a crime where the mere accusation can ruin a business. The term money laundering refers to the taking of funds that were involved in a crime and funneling them through a legitimate business. This, in essence, cleans the money and makes it legal to use.

As an example, a person could rob a bank, and they would then take that money and essentially invest it in a business. The owner would then pay out legitimate money made by the business back to the bank robber. Although, more commonly, money laundering is used to clean drug money these days as bank robberies are less common.

Surprisingly to many, they may not even know they are laundering money if a person seems legitimate enough. The good news is that when defending against money laundering, often ignorance can be a great defense strategy since you cannot be punished for unknowingly committing a crime.

Penalties for Money Laundering

It is widely known that if you are caught knowingly laundering money for any reason, you will face serious punishments for it. However, those under arrest will always tend to be more serious to their own defense if they know the potential maximum charges that they are facing.

The specific penalties for money laundering in Minnesota will differ on a case by case basis. It all depends on the unique circumstances of the crime, but you could very well be facing the maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine upwards of $1,000,000.

This maximum punishment is most common with long-term money launders, those who work in large amounts, or those who have been laundering from multiple different sources. Those that work in small amounts will typically face some punishment for knowingly committing a crime, but probably not near the maximum. Unfortunately, even with a good defense, you still may face some unexpected punishments.

One of the most common non-legal punishments is that any assets involved in the crime would also need to be seized. As those who launder money often own their own business, a conviction for money laundering is typically the end of your business and the loss of many of your most precious assets. Even if not convicted, it may take a while for assets to be returned to you, and some seized assets may not be returned at all. Combine the cost of replacing these losses with the irreparable damage to the reputation to your business, and a accusation of money laundering can be a life-ruining crime without any jail time spent.

How a Money Laundering Defense is Built

When a prosecutor seeks to convict on money laundering charges, they need to prove that you had the knowledge that the funds were the result of a crime and that you intended to conceal where the funds came from or where they were going. As such, this presents four primary defense strategies. These include:

  • Lack of criminal intent
  • You were forced into the act via threats
  • You were not hiding the money
  • You did not know the funds were part of a crime

If the prosecution cannot adequately present evidence that you knew the funds were of a criminal nature, were attempting to hide these funds, or that you had the necessary intent and knowledge to commit money laundering, they do not have a case against you.

You cannot be punished for unknowingly committing this crime. However, even if they can prove at least one of the following, if you were threatened by the criminal organization to commit money laundering for them, this can also be used in your defense in order to mitigate punishments. However, this defense may require you to identify and even testify against the criminal organization, which can come with new threats to your personal safety.

For large criminal organizations, this is the kind of testimony that can put multiple figures away, and that may not come without repercussions. In many cases, your lawyer will want to save this as a sort of last resort effort as it can make things more complicated than necessary. Although, in many money laundering cases, depending on the nature, the prosecution will generally be more interested in prosecuting the criminal organization rather than the business that did the laundering. It is more of a case of getting a weed out at the root rather than just breaking off the stem.

As there can be so many different aspects involved in a money laundering case, it is crucial to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. Potential defenses can be completely negated by utterances made without a lawyer while under custody. It is important to say as little as possible and contact a lawyer as soon as you can.

In many of these cases, the business doing the laundering will be innocent. A number of criminal enterprises make it their business to look legitimate, and those receiving funds legitimately do not know that they are criminal in nature. Not knowing you were doing something illegal, in many cases, is not actually a crime that can be convicted upon.

Need Help? Contact Attorney Kirk Anderson Today

Have you been arrested for money laundering in Minnesota? Whether you had the intention to launder money for any reason or had no idea you were doing it, we can help you. The Anderson Law Firm is dedicated to providing Minnesota citizens with a stalwart defense to criminal charges.

Contact us today to see what we can do for you to make sure you won’t have to face hefty fines and jail time.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.