Most people have a vague idea of what money laundering entails. You might think money laundering only involves large sums of cash. However, money laundering charges can stem from a single transaction. The transaction does not even have to involve a significant amount of money.
Money laundering defined
The FBI defines money laundering as the process of hiding the illegal origins of money by funneling the transaction through a legitimate business. Fraudulent record-keeping can also lead to money laundering charges.
Money laundering charges can stem from a wide range of criminal activities, including embezzlement, illegal gambling, fraud, and drug trafficking. You don’t have to be part of the actual criminal act. You can be charged with money laundering solely for carrying out a transaction with funds that you know were illegally acquired.
The potential consequences are serious
Under Michigan law, money laundering is either a felony or a misdemeanor. First-degree money laundering is a felony and is the most serious charge. A charge of money laundering in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor and is the least serious. Regardless, all charges carry the potential for serious consequences.
A conviction for first-degree money laundering carries the possibility of a 20-year prison term. You also face a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the proceeds, whichever is greater. A fourth-degree conviction carries a jail term of up to two years. You also face a fine of up to $10,000 or twice the value of the proceeds, whichever is greater.
Possible defenses against money laundering charges include lack of intent or lack of knowledge that the proceeds were illegally acquired. Other defenses may also be available. You should discuss your options with a skilled criminal defense professional.