Laws against money laundering are in place to penalize organizations and individuals who use financial transactions as a method to hide the proceeds of any activities that they engage in that are unlawful in Florida. Someone who is accused of money laundering can face a criminal charge at either state or federal level. In many cases, these charges go hand in hand with investigations of organized crime and/or racketeering.
According to the laws in Florida, money laundering is a type of financial transaction or a number of transactions that have been conducted in order to hide, disguise, conceal or process money that have been obtained through a type of criminal activity. This criminal activity has to be a felony prohibited by federal or state laws. It is the prosecution’s duty to demonstrate that the defendant was aware of the unlawful source of proceeds or the underlying criminal activity. Additionally, they must demonstrate that the defendant was aware of the fact that the financial transaction was funded by the proceeds of some type of criminal activity.
There are a lot of different types of transactions that can be classed as money laundering under the laws of Florida. This includes sales, purchase, loans, monetary gifts, wire transfers, bank deposits, investments and currency exchanges to name but a few. When a title is transferred to cars, real property or some sort of vehicle, this can also be classed as money laundering, so long as it was performed in order to hide unlawful proceeds.
Laws and Penalties
The penalties for money laundering in Florida vary depending mainly on the value of the defendant’s financial transactions. As a rule of thumb, however, offenses are categorized as follows:
- 3rd degree felony: when the value of the transactions is between $300 and $20,000 and took place in the past 12 months;
- 2nd degree felony: if the value of the transactions is between $20,000 and $100,000 and took place in the past 12 months;
- 1st degree felony: if the value of the transactions is more than $100,000 and took place in the past 12 months.
The laws within the state of Florida have determined a number of minimum sentences for money laundering, depending on what degree of felony they are. As such:
- 3rd degree felony: up to five years in prison;
- 2nd degree felony: up to 15 years in prison;
- 1st degree felony: up to 30 years in prison.
Additionally, all degrees of felony may be punished by having to pay the state a fine. The fine can be as high as $250,000, or twice the amount of the money laundering transactions, whichever of the two is greater. Additionally, if there have been prior money laundering convictions, the fine can go up to $500,000 or five times the amount of the money laundering transactions, whichever of the two is greater.
Money Laundering Defenses
In most cases, the defense for a money laundering accusation is lack of knowledge. A defendant will claim they were not aware of the source, or of the intended purpose. Another common defense is entrapment that was arranged by law enforcement officials such as the police.
Statute of Limitations
Money laundering is generally classed as a federal offense. Under the strictures of the laws on the federal level, non-capital offenses such as money laundering cannot be prosecuted anymore if the offender was not indicted within five years of the offense having been committed. However, the state of Florida does have the option of tolling the statute of limitations if the offender is out of state.
Money Laundering Cases
- Ansonia man admits to drug dealing, money laundering – A man from Ansonia has admitted to drug dealing and money laundering. He is facing up to 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $1 million.
- Prosecutor: Union County Man Stole $700,000 From Banks, Was Ringleader In Money Laundering Scheme – A resident from Union County has been indicted on a first degree felony charge of money laundering. He is alleged to have stolen $750,000 and to have deposited as much as $1.6 million in counterfeit checks.
- Miami brother of accused Cuban money-launderer gets 3 1/2 years in prison – The brother of a Cuban who has been accused of laundering $238 million in Medicare money into bank accounts in Cuba, has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.
- Three bitcoin traders arrested in Florida on money-laundering charges – It is alleged three men would arrange face to face meetings in which they would exchange bitcoins wallets for physical money, effectively making the money untraceable.
- Florida Man Sentenced on Money Laundering Charge – A man has had to forfeit close to $10 million that he had generated through an illegal gambling operation.