Money laundering is a white collar crime. It involves engaging in financial transactions in an attempt to hide the nature of the money being laundered or the original source that the money came from. Often, money laundering is tied with other criminal activities, such as racketeering or embezzlement.
Since money laundering is a specific intent crime, all defenses available for specific intent crimes can be used. Common defenses include:
- Absence of intent to commit a crime – Most crimes require intent to commit the crime. In terms of money laundering, people who are accountants, bankers, or others who deal with large amounts of money are often charged with money laundering without even knowing they committed a crime. If you can prove you were unaware the money obtained was illegal, then there is no way you could have had the necessary intent to commit money laundering.
- Duress – Duress occurs when a person truly believes there will be some danger or harm if they do not participate in the crime. In money laundering, criminals often force accountants or bankers to launder illegally obtained money by threatening to harm them or their loved ones. If this is the case, you will have a good duress defense.
- Insufficient evidence – A criminal charge can be dismissed if there is insufficient evidence to prosecute. In money laundering, an intention to prevent illegally-obtained funds from being traced to its origin is required for a conviction. A conviction also requires proving the money laundered came from a specific illegal activity. If one of these two things is missing, then there is a possibility this defense will work.
The best way to determine the probability of success of a defense is to consult a criminal defense lawyer. An experienced attorney will be able to analyze your situation and determine the best defenses to pursue.