What Are the Penalties for Money Laundering?


Understanding the consequences of a money laundering accusation is crucial, especially for those who find themselves or their loved ones in legal turmoil due to such charges. This blog post aims to shed light on the complex offense of money laundering - its definition, common examples, penalties specific to Washington State, and defensible strategies.

If you’re facing such allegations, it is crucial that you understand the legal intricacies of this type of crime and enlist the help of a seasoned money laundering criminal defense lawyer.

What Is Money Laundering?

At its core, money laundering is the process of making illegally-gained proceeds (i.e., "dirty money") appear legal ("clean").

This typically involves three stages:

  • Placement: The illegal activity transfers the money to the launderer's hands.
  • Layering: The launderer performs a series of transactions to conceal the initial recipient of the funds.
  • Integration: The money is returned to the launderer through indirect means.

As defined in RCW 9A.83.020, an individual is guilty of money laundering when they engage in or attempt to carry out a financial transaction that involves the proceeds of specific unlawful activities; or

  1. "Knows the property is proceeds of specified unlawful activity; or"
  2. "Knows that the transaction is designed in whole or in part to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds, and acts recklessly as to whether the property is proceeds of specified unlawful activity; or"
  3. "Knows that the transaction is designed in whole or in part to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under federal law."

Money Laundering Examples

There are numerous examples and various types of money laundering.

Money laundering examples include:

  • Dividing illicit funds into smaller amounts and subsequently depositing into multiple bank accounts or financial institutions
  • Exaggerating revenue of a restaurant and inflating expenses to conceal illicit funds
  • Using illegal earnings to sell, purchase, or lease real estate properties to conceal unlawful activities

These examples represent just a handful of the many ways money laundering can occur. However, no matter the form, it is important to note that Washington State treats this offense with the utmost seriousness.

Money Laundering Penalties in Washington State

In Washington State, money laundering can lead to severe penalties. A person convicted of money laundering could face a Class B felony, which includes potential sentences of:

  • Ten years in prison
  • Fines up to $5000,000 or twice the value of laundered money, whichever total is greater
  • Compensation for individuals impacted by the money laundering crime
  • Possible forfeiture of personal property and assets utilized or intended for use in the money laundering

In addition to legal ramifications, individuals convicted of money laundering may also be subject to various other penalties. Additional repercussions can include:

  • Tarnished reputation
  • Challenges securing employment
  • Challenges in finding housing
  • Difficulties readjusting to life after imprisonment
  • Professional licensing issues
  • And more

Money Laundering Defense Strategies

Having a strong defense is crucial when facing money laundering charges. An experienced money laundering attorney can assess your situation and determine the most effective defense strategy tailored to your needs.

Some common defense strategies include:

  • Lack of Intent: Your attorney can demonstrate that you were unaware the money was obtained from illegal activities.
  • Insufficient Evidence: The prosecutor must prove you engaged in money laundering beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney could show that there is insufficient evidence or perhaps even no evidence to help you avoid a conviction.
  • Illegally Obtained Evidence: Any evidence not lawfully obtained may be inadmissible in court. Your attorney can scrutinize all aspects of your case to determine whether there are any errors or violations of your rights.

There are numerous additional defenses available for combating money laundering. Your money laundering lawyer can work closely with you to identify and construct a defense that is specific to your circumstances.

How Can a Money Laundering Defense Attorney Help You?

Having a money laundering defense attorney is crucial in order to effectively defend yourself against the harsh penalties associated with such charges.

Benefits of hiring an experienced attorney:

  • Experience: Your attorney has experience handling numerous cases similar to yours. They will be able to identify any obstacles, explain legal terminology, and thoroughly investigate your case.
  • Guidance through legal proceedings: Your attorney can provide guidance and support, navigating you through the complex legal proceedings.
  • Comprehensive defense formation: With their knowledge and skills, your attorney can help build a robust and comprehensive defense strategy tailored to your specific situation.
  • Negotiation: An experienced attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to seek reduced charges, case dismissal, or alternative sentences on your behalf.

By enlisting the help of an experienced attorney, you can increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome and have a legal professional on your side.

Contact Our Money Laundering Defense Attorneys

If you or someone you know is facing money laundering charges, it’s essential to seek professional legal help immediately. Our team of skilled money laundering defense attorneys at Hester Law Group can assist you every step of the way.

Remember, a charge is not a conviction, and with the right defense, there is hope for a favorable outcome.

Contact us to schedule a consultation and start building a strong defense for your case. Dial (253) 300-3034 or send us a message online.

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