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“Dirty” cash: Money laundering methods, categories and penalties

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Criminal Law |

It’s a crime to cover up another crime. Money laundering is the illegal activity of intentionally concealing illegally obtained money.

The process usually unfolds in three steps. First, the launderer places “dirty” cash in a legitimate financial system. Then, the money goes through a series of complex, tricky and difficult-to-trace transactions. Lastly, the offender withdraws the newly laundered or “clean” cash for criminal purposes.

From “dirty” to “clean” cash

Money laundering isn’t always part of an elaborate scheme from an organized crime. Any action intended to hide the illegal source of funds counts. Under New Jersey law, money laundering can be any of the following methods:

  • Possessing or having knowledge of an ill-gotten property
  • Participating in transactions concealing the source of an ill-gotten property to evade reporting
  • Filing falsified reports with significant omissions and obstructing the report’s release by influencing a financial institution

Some concrete money laundering conduct includes investing in easily movable commodities, gambling at casinos and using shell companies. Further, the rise of the internet provides a virtual platform for crime through anonymous online payments and transfers.

Facing money laundering charges

The varying classifications of charges depend on the value of the property laundered.

  • First degree: $500,000 or more
  • Second degree: $75,000-$499,999
  • Third degree: Less than $75,000

There are corresponding fines and prison time per degree of crime. First-degree offense imposes 10 to 20 years in prison with up to a $20,000 fine. Second-degree offenders face five to 10 years imprisonment with up to a $150,000 fine. Third-degree offenders may be subject to three to five years of incarceration with up to a $15,000 fine.

Establishing a defense

Although it is more challenging than it sounds, a defensive strategy is possible in court. In this case, having a legal team guiding you to reasonable courses of action proves invaluable. Given your circumstances, they can argue your case so that you may avoid severe penalties and other damaging consequences.