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Money Laundering Defense in the State of California: Potential Penalties

Nationwide, money laundering is considered a white-collar crime. It is the unlawful act of taking currency from a criminal activity to conceal or mask the source of the currency through a sequence of financial transactions. Money laundering can often be a complex and time consuming process that can require multiple financial transactions, multiple businesses and the currency can cross through many different sets of books in the goal to appear legitimate in the end. Ultimately, the entire process could leave a lengthy paper trail that can be difficult to trace or fully determine the origin of the funds.

Depending on the elements of the case, a person can be charged differently. Under State of California criminal law, money laundering can be identified through the following:

State of California Penal Code 186.10

California Health and Safety Code 11370.9

Being charged with money laundering can be distressing for any person. Money laundering in the State of California is a serious crime that can involve heavy fines and even incarceration. If you or someone you know has been charged with money laundering, it is crucial to seek the professional advice of a skilled attorney. An attorney with the right experience can help build a strong defense against the charges. With the support of proficient attorney, the charges can be reduced or in some cases, dismissed. It is often left to the prosecution to present a sound case, and ones when not done, experienced attorneys can pick apart details of the case and work towards a favorable outcome.

Potential Penalties for a Money Laundering Charge

Money laundering in the State of California can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony. This is because money laundering is considered a “wobbler” charge. Depending on the facts of the case and at times, the defendant’s criminal history, the prosecutor overseeing the case has the discretion and can then file it as a misdemeanor or a felony.

In the event that the prosecutor filed the case as a misdemeanor, the crime can be punishable up to one year in jail and include monetary court fines. If filed as a felony, the crime can carry a sentence of up to three years in jail. The fine will typically involve of up to $250,000 or twice the amount money laundered. Depending on the criminal history of the accused as well as the amount of money laundered, the charges and fines can increase and compound. If the charge is presented in a federal court, the penalties can also be different as regulations and the penalties associated with them are mandated by a completely different set of standards.

If you are being charged with money laundering, it is important to seek the expert advice of a proficient attorney. A money laundering charge can carry a severe penalty that could affect you even if the charges were reduced. A knowledgeable attorney can champion for your rights and help you through this challenging ordeal.

The Bottom Line: Bring a Strong Defense to Your Case

Money laundering charges in the State of California are serious and require the expertise of a skilled attorney. Such charges have the potential to not only affect your criminal record, but affect your loved ones as well. A competent attorney can help you compile a strong defense, which can help you drastically reduce the charges against you or completely dismiss them.

If you have been charged with a white-collar crime in the State of California, seek expert advice as soon as possible. The attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP., have extensive experience in the field of white-collar crimes. Their expertise in money laundering cases have helped them successfully represent many accused individuals.


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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.