In many cases, alleged criminal activity that occurs in the United States involves earning money through illegal means. When businesses need to deal with cash, they may take steps to ensure that they can use, move, and store money. In some cases, this can result in accusations of money laundering, which occurs when profits from alleged illegal activity are made to seem legal. A person who is accused of money laundering may face criminal charges under state laws, but also federal laws in some situations.
What Is Money Laundering?
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), money laundering is the process in which the true origins of profits earned through criminal acts are concealed, and a person makes it look as though money was earned through legitimate means. There are many ways that money can be laundered. One of the most common methods is to funnel cash through a legitimate business. Money laundering can also be done by “smurfing” or “structuring,” which occurs when a person breaks up large amounts of cash and deposits it into multiple accounts in smaller quantities. Whatever the method of money laundering, it is illegal, and it can result in serious consequences.
Consequences Under Connecticut Law
Connecticut law defines four degrees of money laundering:
- First-degree money laundering – This charge applies if a person exchanges or receives more than $10,000 that was earned through the commission of a felony. In these cases, a person must have intended to conceal that the profits were earned through the illegal sale of controlled substances. This is a Class B felony which can result in a prison sentence of 1 to 20 years.
- Second-degree money laundering – This charge applies if a person intended to conceal that more than $10,000 was gained through a felony crime other than the sale of controlled substances. This is a Class C felony which can result in a prison sentence of 1 to 10 years.
- Third-degree money laundering – This charge applies if a person concealed more than $10,000 with the knowledge that money was derived illegally and that it will aid another person in committing or benefiting from criminal activity. This is a Class D felony which can result in a prison sentence of one to five years.
- Fourth-degree money laundering – This charge applies if a person concealed less than $10,000 that was gained through felonious criminal activity. This is a Class A misdemeanor which can result in a prison sentence of up to one year.
In addition to a prison sentence, a person convicted of money laundering may be fined up to $250,000 or twice the amount of the money that was laundered, whichever is greater. Second or subsequent offenses can result in fines of up to $500,000 or five times the amount of money that was laundered.
Money laundering is also a federal crime, and federal charges may apply in cases involving large amounts of money or criminal activity that crosses state lines or international borders. Federal money laundering laws apply to those who commit money laundering, those who aid in money laundering, or those who have knowledge that the money laundering is occurring.
Federal money laundering charges will typically fall into one of two categories:
- Engaging in a financial transaction involving money or property derived from certain specified criminal activities, including drug trafficking, murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, or fraud, is an offense that can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the amount of money that was laundered, as well as civil penalties of $10,000 or the amount of money that was laundered. In these cases, a person must have intended to promote criminal activity, known that their transaction was meant to conceal that money was obtained through illegal activity, or intended to avoid reporting requirements under state or federal laws.
- Engaging in a monetary transaction of at least $10,000 with the knowledge that the money was obtained through specified illegal activities is an offense that can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the amount of money that was laundered. In these cases, a transaction must have been conducted through a financial institution.
To help address potential money laundering, the IRS requires individuals and businesses to use Form 8300 to report cash transactions in which they receive over $10,000, as well as “suspicious” cash transactions of $10,000 or less. Notably, “cash” includes cashier’s checks, bank drafts, money orders, or traveler’s checks. Failure to meet these reporting requirements can result in steep fines or other penalties.
Contact a Hartford, CT Money Laundering Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with money laundering, you may be facing multiple other charges as well. These charges are taken very seriously by the state of Connecticut and the federal government. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we have handled hundreds of criminal defense cases in both Connecticut and federal courts. Our skilled Connecticut white collar crime defense lawyer has the knowledge to help you avoid a conviction or minimize the consequences you may face. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.