Are you dealing with money laundering in Louisiana or any other state in the US? If so, you’re dealing with serious charges that can yield up to 50 years in Louisiana state prison.
That said, the maximum sentence applies to extensive money laundering operations as well as other bank fraud charges. If you’re implicated in small-time money laundering, you could face misdemeanor charges. Serious money laundering operations are usually felonies.
Above all, stay calm. A seasoned criminal defense attorney can help you create a strong defense. Defenses for money laundering can include a lack of intent or coercion under the threat of violence. The prosecution may also fail to link the money in question to illicit operations.
This article will highlight how Louisiana handles money laundering cases. Read further to know more.
What is Money Laundering?
Under Louisiana law, money laundering is the act of laundering money deriving from criminal activity. It covers any transaction including money from illicit activity.
A laundering operation entails processing the money to make it seem as though it came from a legitimate source. Laundering money breaks down into three steps:
- Placement: The illicit funds can go to a bank account or a business. The offenders will place the funds in small increments to avoid detection. Offenders depositing large funds at once are more likely to get caught.
- Layering: This step involves blending the illegal money with legal money. Then, the illicit money disappears through various transactions, such as gambling or stock purchases.
- Integration: The illegal money returns as a legitimate form of income. Then, offenders will use the money for long-term investments or large asset purchases.
This model applies to all types of laundering activities. Further, you can face charges if you oversaw money laundering operations, even if you didn’t launder the money yourself.
Money Laundering and Federal Charges
In addition to Louisiana charges, you could face federal charges. If you face state and federal charges, your sentence could be double. Additionally, other crimes may apply, such as fraud or drug offenses.
Penalties for Money Laundering
Whether you live in Baton Rouge or Livingston, money laundering penalties in Louisiana are the same statewide. Under the RS 14:230 statute, the penalties break down as follows:
- Funds of less than $3,000: You could face a penalty of less than six months in jail and/or a fine of no more than $1,000.
- Funds equal to or greater than $3,000 but not more than $20,000: You could face imprisonment between 2 to 10 years. You could also face a fine of $10,000 or less.
- Funds that are $20,000 or less but not more than $100,000: The penalty can range from 2 to 20 years in prison. Also, a fine of $20,000 or less may apply.
- Funds that are $100,000 or more: Prison time varies from 2 to 50 years, with a fine of $50,000 or less.
If you’re accused of laundering money that’s less than $3,000 in Louisiana, you could face a misdemeanor charge. Laundering operations involving more than $3,000 will carry felony charges. In such a situation, you will most certainly need a felony charges lawyer for proper representation.
Proving Money Laundering Charges
Prosecutors will try to prove the launderer knew the money came from an illicit source. The key to proving money laundering charges is intent. Louisiana authorities will struggle to prosecute if you didn’t know about the origin of the money.
You could beat the charges if a lawyer successfully argues you didn’t know the money stemmed from an illegal stream. To win this type of case, the prosecution must do the following:
- The prosecution must prove the money came from an illegal source.
- The offending party must try to prevent the illegal funds from being traced to an unlawful source.
If the prosecutors cannot prove these two factors, they could lose the case. Prosecutors tend to have a hard time proving these claims because offenders usually blend illegal and legal income streams, especially if the ill-gotten funds go back into the legitimate economy.
Therefore, distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate money can be difficult. However, this task is not impossible, and prosecutors can win if they’re persuasive enough.
The lack of intent is the strongest defense. This is a common defense within the banking sector.
Another strong defense is fear. Many people participate in money laundering operations if they’re under duress. Duress occurs when someone performs an activity under some type of threat.
Perhaps a perpetrator threatened your life in some way. Perhaps the offenders threatened your family members. If argued properly, this type of defense can be compelling.
The Importance of Legal Advice
Hire an attorney who has experience working on money laundering cases. Experienced attorneys will help you create a strong defense based on your circumstance.
They also know how to present your case to a jury. Proving a money laundering case is difficult, but it’s possible if the prosecution crafts the right narrative.
Prosecutors use various tricks and tactics to discredit defendants. A good defense attorney knows how to counter prosecutorial schemes. Without an attorney, the court system can undermine your right to a fair trial.
Also, hire an attorney who is familiar with the local courts. If you live in Ascencion, for example, find an attorney who is familiar with the Ascension court system. An attorney who knows the local courts will know what to expect.
Beating Money Laundering Charges
To beat money laundering charges, contact an attorney immediately. Statistically, defendants with an attorney stand a better chance of winning their cases. This type of charge carries hefty jail time and pricey fines.
Remember: the prosecution must prove intent. Also, they must trace the money to an illegal source.
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