Money Laundering Charges in Orange County
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Money laundering is a type of white collar crime that involves hiding the true source of money so that it appears to come from another source. When money is obtained through a white collar crime such as fraud or tax evasion, or from another type of offense such as drug trafficking or prostitution, that money cannot be sent without raising suspicions and attracting the wrong type of attention. In order to be able to spend the illegally-procured funds, the individual is forced to first launder the money. So what exactly is money laundering? According to the California Penal Code §186.10, money laundering is using or attempting to use a financial institution in order hide the proceeds of criminal activities.
What is money laundering?
It is one thing to say you are going to hide the true source of money, but this is easier said than done. Law enforcement has the means and resources necessary to track where money came from and is constantly on the lookout for instances of this crime. Money launderers generally follow a three-step outline when hiding money. The first and most risky step is called placement. During placement, the "dirty" money is deposited into a legitimate financial institution. The reason this step is dangerous is because banks are required to report when a large amount of cash has been deposited and authorities track suspect transactions.
If placement is successful, then the next stage of the process can begin. Layering involves moving the money around so that if the source of the money ever was investigated, authorities would not be able to find the original source, even if they looked back several steps. Examples of layering include large purchases (real estate, boats, planes, art, and jewelry), transfers between bank accounts, withdrawals and then opening another bank account, and more. The main goal of these transfers is to make the history of the money as complicated and difficult to sort through as possible.
Step three of money laundering is integration. The end goal of money laundering is to allow the money to reenter the economy as a legal commodity. One way that money launderers will do this is by investing a large amount of money into a fake business. They may also sell a large purchase which they had previously bought. If someone investigating the deposit or sale starts to trace the money back, the layering process should have adequately covered their tracks.
California Law, Money Laundering & Criminal Defense Representation
As mentioned before, money laundering is illegal under California law. Not only does the Penal Code give information regarding the definition of the offense, but also of the possible penalties you could be facing. Those convicted of this offense could be placed in county jail for up to one year as well as fined up to $250,000. If twice the value of the property stolen was greater than the fine, then this will replace the fine. Those who are accused of money laundering for a second or subsequent time could be fined up to $500,000 or five times the amount that was stolen.
If you have questions about money laundering or another white collar crime in California, you should contact our team at The Law Office of Bruce C. Bridgman. We have over 30 years of experience in handling these types of cases and you can be confident that we will fight aggressively to defend you. With a former Deputy District Attorney on our side, you can have peace of mind knowing that we have what it takes to defend you. To learn more, call our office today or fill out our free case evaluation.