For Those Charged With a Crime
Money Laundering in Sugar Land, Texas
Protecting Your Rights in Texas
Money laundering is the process used to disguise criminal proceeds and integrate the illegal funds into the legitimate financial system. Essentially, it is when you turn “dirty” money into “clean” money. There are many different ways that money can be laundered, including cash-business laundering, trade-based laundering, and cybercrime laundering.
Money laundering is prosecuted under both federal and state law in Sugar Land. Under Texas Penal Code Section 34.01, several different activities relating to laundered money are criminalized. You can be charged with money laundering in Sugar Land if you:
- Possess, conceal, transfer, or transport in any way a transaction involving the proceeds of criminal activity;
- Carry out, supervise, or facilitate a transaction involving proceeds of criminal activity;
- Invest, receive, spend or intend to invest, receive, or spend funds that you believe are proceeds from criminal activity; or
- Finance or invest or intend to finance or invest proceeds that you believe will facilitate criminal activities.
It is not necessary to know the specifics about criminal activity to be convicted of money laundering. You only need to know that the money was obtained through illegal means.
Under the statute, criminal activity means a felony under federal law, Texas state law, or the laws of any other state. Because each state has different requirements for felonies, the criminal activity includes any crime that could result in a punishment of at least a year in jail. It is not required that the crime is a completed criminal offense. Criminal attempts and conspiracy charges are also included.
How is Money Laundering Penalized in Sugar Land?
Money laundering is punishable under both state and federal law and carries severe penalties. Under Texas law, the penalties increase depending on the amount of money laundered.
- State Jail Felony: If the value of money laundered is more than $2,500 but less than $30,000, it will be categorized as a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and fines up to $10,000.
- Third-Degree Felony: If the value of money laundered is more than $30,000 but less than $150,000, it will be categorized as a third-degree felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Second-Degree Felony: If the value of the property is between $150,000 and $300,000, it will be categorized as a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- First-Degree Felony: If the value of the property is more than $300,000, it will be categorized as a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 in prison.
Federal penalties are even more severe. If you are convicted under federal money laundering charges, you could face up to twenty years in prison and fines up to $500,000 or twice the value of funds involved.
Money laundering charges are often accompanied by civil asset forfeiture where the government will seize cash from you, alleging that it was connected to criminal activity. There does not need to be a criminal conviction for the government to seize your property.
What are Defenses to Money Laundering in Sugar Land?
Having the right attorney to defend against your money laundering charges can make all the difference. If you are under investigation or have been charged with money laundering, the very first thing that you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. The defense strategy will depend on the specifics of your crime, but below are common defenses in civil asset forfeiture cases:
- The defendant had no knowledge of how the funds were obtained. You cannot be convicted of money laundering if you were aware of any connection to criminal activity.
- The evidence is lacking. Your attorney may argue that there is not enough evidence to support the charges or that the evidence is based on statements by witnesses that are lying or mistaken. Additionally, your attorney will work to suppress any evidence that was illegally obtained in violation of your constitutional rights
- You were under duress and believed that you would be in danger if you refused to participate in the money laundering scheme.
Your Sugar Land Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing money laundering charges, you should reach out to an experienced and client-focused Sugar Land criminal defense attorney. Adam Capetillo is a Fort Bend County native who will provide a skilled and aggressive defense. Call Capetillo Law Firm today for a free consultation.