Los Angeles Money Laundering Defense Lawyers
Money laundering is, by nature, a complex crime. It’s the act of transferring money that was obtained illicitly into a bank account, business, or another legitimate location to hide the fact that it originated from illegal activity.
If you or a loved one has been accused of money laundering, you’re facing a very frightening situation. With the possibly of severe penalties and the prospect of facing the federal government in court, it’s important that you have the right legal team on your side. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn, LLP., our team has the necessary experience to represent your case and give you the aggressive criminal defense you deserve.
In the state of California, money laundering occurs when you deposit, withdraw, or exchange funds that were obtained from criminal activity. Due to the many ways in which money and other assets can be transferred, the laws covering money laundering can have a wide scope. They can apply to wire transfers, foreign currency exchanges, or any transaction involving a financial institution.
It is common to see on the news or hear stories about a company that was involved in money laundering schemes, or of a criminal mastermind who funneled money from their illegal enterprise into different channels. Since banks are required to report all deposits exceeding a certain value to the federal government for tax-related purposes, many criminals will opt to make deposits that are slightly below this limit to ensure that their transactions will not be reported. This method, however, also known as “smurfing,” can immediately appear as suspicious.
While there are many strategies that criminals employ in order to commit money laundering, there are several risks associated with all of them. Individuals will at times, launder money by purchasing assets that are valued less than what they should be normally. For instance, purchasing a $1 million house for $500,000 in “clean” money and then later selling it at full price, thus laundering $500,000 of “dirty” money.
Another common method of laundering money is going to the casino. Individuals who wish to launder money at a casino simply exchange their money for chips and then cash it out at a later time. In almost all the various ways in which money can be laundered, there are red flags. With the widespread nature of anti-money laundering groups these days, investigators are getting more skilled at identifying suspicious activity.
In California law, the regulations for how law enforcement addresses money laundering is different depending on where the money originated. If the money was obtained through drug-related criminal activity, then the Health and Safety Code - HSC § 11370.9 defines how it will be approached by the prosecution. In order for this to happen, the prosecution needs to prove that a number of specific acts took place for the charges to stick. This law often makes it difficult to be successfully prosecuted for money laundering in connection with a drug crime. Under the Heath and Safety law, the following acts must be proven to have taken place:
- That you knowingly received proceeds or engaged in a transaction involving proceeds you knew to be derived from a drug-related crime, such as drug trafficking.
- That you intentionally tried to conceal the source or origin of the money.
- That the total amount of laundered money exceeds $25,000 within a 30-day period.
- You made a transaction or group of transactions that exceeded $5,000 in a 7-day time frame or exceeded $25,000 in a 30-day time frame.
- You deposited the funds or attempted to deposit the funds into a bank account.
- You had specific knowledge that the money originated from illegal activity or intended to promote illegal activity.
All forms of money laundering–from drug-related activities or not–are referred to as “wobbler” crimes in California. Meaning, at the prosecution’s whim, charges may be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. Being charged with misdemeanor money laundering can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Alternatively, if the money laundering is treated as a felony, the penalties can be much more severe. Under a felony charge of controlled substances money laundering, an individual could be sentenced to four years in state prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In the case of general money laundering, the prosecution can seek a prison sentence based on the amount of money that was laundered, with increasing prison terms if the total amount of laundered money is valued up to $2.5 million.
The legal team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn, LLP, have successfully represented numerous clients facing money laundering charges. In one notable circumstance, Mark Werksman, managing partner, worked with an individual who was facing felony charges and severe penalties for laundering money through the sale of laptop computers. Thanks to his tenacious, effective, and strategic representation, Mark was able to convince the federal court into reducing the charges to a misdemeanor with no jail time.
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn, LLP, we understand that there are unique circumstances to every case. Often times, those who end up being accused of money laundering had no knowledge that they were engaging in illegal activity, such as the bankers, accountants, and other professionals who were manipulated into laundering money from illegal activities. Furthermore, there are other instances in which someone was coerced into facilitating a money laundering scheme under threat of danger or physical harm.
Regardless of the details, you deserve criminal defense from the ones who understand how to fight these charges better than anyone. You need a seasoned Los Angeles white collar crime defense attorney who can guide you through the complexities of your case and fight for your freedom. Contact our office at (213) 688-0460 to learn more.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.