Money laundering is a white collar crime that occurs when you take illicitly received money and attempt to conceal its origin and convert it to “legitimate” financial assets or money. In this arrangement, a person puts the money received from criminal activity through a complex transaction to give off the appearance it came from a perfectly legal operation. This can involve things like shell companies and buying real estate.
Additionally, you do not actually have to be the person who conducted the illegal operation to be charged with money laundering. If you are a financial institution who handles a significant amount of laundered money, you can potentially be held criminally liable.
Penalties for Money Laundering
In the state of California, money laundering carries significant penalties including prison time and fines. Depending on the circumstances of the case, money laundering can either be tried in state courts or federal courts. The circumstances can also determine whether the crime will be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor.
In order to be charged with money laundering, there must be evidence you:
- Put the money through a financial institution
- Make at least $5,000 in deposits within seven days or $25,000 in deposits within 30 days
If it is a misdemeanor, the prison sentence for money laundering is no greater than one year. However, a felony money laundering charge can carry a prison sentence up to three years. A federal money laundering charge can mean decades in prison.
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