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Money Laundering: How Much Can it Cost You?

Posted on February 10, 2014 by Mintzer Law

A person can face time in prison and hefty fines if convicted of the crime of money laundering in Texas. Merely being aware that a transaction involves the proceeds of criminal activity is enough for law enforcement and prosecutors to file money laundering charges. An individual does not have to participate in the initial criminal activity to be charged with money laundering.

Money Laundering under Texas Law

The purpose behind most money laundering schemes is to hide the illegal nature of money or other valuables obtained through criminal activity. This is accomplished by moving the items through a series of legitimate financial or commercial transactions to hide their illegal nature. Such conduct is the crime of money laundering under Chapter 34 of the Texas Penal Code if the criminal activity from which the proceeds came was a felony or was punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.

The proceeds involved in money laundering can be in any of the following forms:

  • Currency of the United States
  • Foreign currency
  • U.S. Treasury notes or silver certificates
  • Electronic funds, checks, money orders, bearer securities or stock certificates

Conduct that is usually associated with money laundering operations includes the following:

  • Acquiring, maintaining an interest in, concealing, possessing transporting or transferring the funds
  • Facilitating, conducting or supervising a transaction involving the funds
  • Investing or offering to invest such funds

Money Laundering Defenses

The law making it a crime to launder money also offers two defenses to prosecution. The first defense is knowledge of the source of the funds. Not knowing that the money or other valuables are the proceeds of criminal activity can be used as a defense.

Another defense is related to a person’s right to counsel as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Texas state constitution. Using money that might have been from criminal activity to hire a defense attorney is a defense under the Texas Penal Code.

Penalties for Money Laundering in Texas

The sentence a judge can impose on a person convicted of money laundering depends upon the value of the proceeds derived from the criminal activity. The penalties and severity of the charges based upon different values include the following:

• Value of $1,500 to $20,000: State Jail felony punishable by from 180 days to 2 years in state jail and fine up to $10,000
• Value of $20,000 to $100,000: Third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
• Value of $100,000 to $200,000: Second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
• Value of $200,000: First-degree felony punishable by 5 to 99 years or life in prison and fine up to $10,000

Speak with a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney

Money laundering charges are very serious because they carry such large penalties. An honest individual who makes a simple mistake can find his life spinning out of control. Don’t let that happen to you. Get a hold of Rand Mintzer today by calling 713-862-8880.