money laundering
money laundering

Money Laundering: Definition And Consequences


Money laundering is a serious offense that can result in significant state and federal penalties. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand what money laundering is, the different methods, and the consequences if you are facing charges.

Vinas & Graham, PLLC are criminal defense attorneys experienced in representing clients at the state and federal level for offenses like money laundering. They understand what is at stake and will work relentlessly to protect your rights and freedom.

What Is Money Laundering?

In its simplest definition, money laundering is disguising the illegal source of money, often by moving it through foreign banks or legitimate enterprises.

Texas Definition:

The Texas Money Laundering Act (Texas Penal Code § 34.02) defines money laundering as knowingly acquiring, maintaining an interest in, concealing, possessing, transferring, or transporting the proceeds of criminal activity. Money laundering can encompass activities such as investing, spending, receiving, or offering to invest, spending, or receiving profits from unlawful activities or investing funds that the individual believes will promote the perpetration of criminal activities.

Federal Definition:

Money laundering at a federal level refers to concealing the origins, ownership, or control of illegally obtained money, typically by disguising the funds as legitimately earned income. This practice enables criminals to use the proceeds from their illegal activities, like drug trafficking, embezzlement, corruption, or gambling, without attracting attention from law enforcement agencies.

Different Methods Of Money Laundering

Money launderers use various methods to conceal the authentic sources of their funds and evade detection by authorities. One common way is “smurfing,” where large sums of money are broken down into smaller transactions and deposited into different banks to avoid triggering mandatory reporting requirements by financial institutions.

Money mules are another tactic employed by launderers. These individuals are hired to open bank accounts and deposit illicit funds. They may be recruited without knowledge of the scheme, often enticed by the promise of high-paying jobs. Once the money is in the accounts, launderers use wire transfers and currency exchanges to move the funds around the financial system.

Shells or shell corporations are other tools used by money launderers. These entities have no physical operations or employees and can be used to hide illegal activities and avoid taxes. Individuals may create these shell companies in jurisdictions that guarantee anonymity to move money undetected.

Other methods used by money launderers include investing in mobile commodities like gems and gold, discreetly investing in valuable assets such as real estate, gambling, and counterfeiting. These tactics allow launderers to avoid detection and make their illegal funds appear legitimate.

Consequences Of Money Laundering Conviction

Being convicted of money laundering will have significant consequences on your future. You can face penalties at the state and federal levels.

Texas State Consequences

The seriousness of a money laundering offense in Texas is determined by the amount of money involved.

If the value of the funds is:

  • Less than $2,500 is considered a state jail felony.
  • Between $2,500 and $30,000, it is a third-degree felony.
  • Between $30,000 and $150,000, it is a second-degree felony.
  • Between $150,000 and $300,000, it is a first-degree felony.
  • More than $300,000 is considered an enhanced first-degree felony.

Money laundering is a major offense in Texas, with harsh penalties such as imprisonment, fines, and forfeiture of assets. A conviction for money laundering can also have long-lasting effects on an individual’s personal and professional life.

Federal Consequences

Severe punishments such as imprisonment, financial penalties, and the seizure of property are possible consequences of committing federal money laundering crimes. However, these repercussions depend on the crime committed and the money involved.

Additionally, even if individuals do not directly commit the act of money laundering, they may still be held accountable if it is established that they were aware of it.

It’s worth noting that federal money laundering cases often require collaboration among law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, IRS, DEA, and FinCEN, to investigate and prosecute those involved in these illegal activities.

Secure Your Future: Trust Vinas & Graham, PLLC, To Protect Your Legal Interests

When facing money laundering charges, hiring a competent lawyer to protect your interests is essential. Vinas & Graham, PLLC’s experienced criminal defense attorneys, have unique perspectives as former Felony Chief Prosecutors and have extensive knowledge of money laundering laws. As a result, they can offer invaluable legal guidance and representation, negotiate plea deals, and explore alternative dispute resolution methods.

Working with Vinas & Graham, PLLC protects your legal rights and interests. Contact them today and follow their Facebook page for more information on Texas criminal defense and federal crimes matters.

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