Money laundering is a category of white-collar crime that involves manipulating money derived from criminal activities such as drug trafficking to make it appear to have originated from a legitimate source. The objective is to keep the money by diverting it from the attention of government authorities.
The Florida Money Laundering Act criminalizes a wide range of activities, including conducting certain financial transactions and transporting monetary instruments or funds. Under the state law, it is illegal to conduct or attempt to conduct a financial transaction with the proceeds of certain unlawful activities or to transport a monetary instrument or funds when any of the following apply:
There is intent to support the continuation of the underlying criminal activity
It is known that the transaction is designed to hide the origin, whereabouts, ownership or control of the money
It is known that the transaction is designed to avoid a reporting requirement or money transmitters’ registration requirement under state law
The Act also prohibits the “structuring” of domestic coin and currency transactions. Structuring means conducting or attempting to conduct one or more currency transactions in order to evade the $10,000 currency transaction reporting requirements mandated by state and federal law. Examples of illegal structuring might include separating a cash deposit that exceeds $10,000 into smaller sums in order to avoid a currency transaction report being filed or purchasing multiple money orders from different locations to keep the amount of each transaction under the $10,000 limit.
Florida imposes steep penalties on those convicted of money laundering. These penalties include:
A third-degree felony charge and up to five years in prison for property valued between $300 and $20,000
A second-degree felony charge and up to 15 years in prison for property valued between $20,000 and $100,000
For property that is valued at over $100,000, the charge is considered a first-degree felony, and the prison sentence could be up to 30 years
On top of incarceration, someone who is convicted may be forced to pay a fine of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved (whichever is greater). If this is a second or third offense, the fines will be much higher.
In addition to state charges, individuals who participate in money laundering may also be prosecuted under the federal money laundering statute (18 U.S.C. § 1956), which carries even greater penalties.
The Law Office of Roma W. Theus, II, P.A. has extensive experience representing clients charged with both state and federal money laundering offenses as well as other crimes in Florida. Given the life-changing penalties that can result from a money laundering conviction, it’s essential to have a knowledgeable attorney protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. Please call 954.281.4851 or contact me online to schedule a consultation at my office in Wellington.
The Law Office of Roma W. Theus, II, P.A. is located in Wellington, FL and serves clients in and around Loxahatchee and Pahokee.
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