Have you been accused of or charged with money laundering? New Jersey prosecutors take money laundering offenses very seriously, which means a conviction could have life-changing implications. In addition to criminal penalties like fines and jail time, you may suffer other consequences such as difficulty finding or keeping a job, inability to qualify for certain types of housing, and loss of certain privileges.
If you are facing criminal money laundering charges in New Jersey, you need the help of an experienced local attorney who can defend your rights and fight for a positive outcome. At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our team understands just how nerve-wracking it can feel to be accused of a crime and not know what to expect. We are here to listen to your side of the story, address your concerns, and develop an intelligent strategy for your defense.
Our New Jersey money laundering attorneys have a strong track record of securing favorable outcomes for clients in similar positions to yours. Let us put our skills, experience, and resource to work on your defense. Contact us today for an initial case review, and tell us about your situation.
What Is Money Laundering?
At its most basic, money laundering is simply the act of concealing the source of unlawfully obtained money. Money laundering can occur in many ways, but the purpose of any money laundering effort is to make it look like money that was obtained through illegal means actually has some legitimate origin.
Money that has been successfully laundered can be used freely without drawing the suspicion of governments or financial institutions. Keep in mind that you can be charged with money laundering even if you had no involvement in any criminal activity that produced the money.
Common activities that may get the attention of investigators include using illegally-obtained cash to:
- Purchase real estate and quickly sell it to collect the legitimate proceeds
- Pay for casino chips, gamble briefly, and then exchange the chips for cash
- Make large transfers or currency exchanges at banks or financial institutions
- Create false transaction records to disguise the origins of financial crimes
- Split large sums into smaller sums and deposit them in multiple accounts
An individual may also be considered guilty of money laundering if they are simply part of or aware of a transaction that they know is intended to launder money or avoid reporting it to the government. New Jersey also prosecutes money laundering offenses when people file financial reports with false or omitted information.
New Jersey Laws Regarding Money Laundering
According to the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C § 21-25, money laundering occurs when someone:
- Possesses property that they know or that a reasonable person should know was obtained through criminal activity
- Participates in a transaction involving such property while knowing that the purpose of the transaction is to disguise the source of the property or avoid complying with legal reporting requirements
- Causes a financial institution to avoid filing a report as required by law or to file a report with false or missing information
Penalties for Money Laundering Charges
The consequences of a money laundering conviction in New Jersey can vary considerably depending on the nature and severity of the offense. Possible penalties may include:
- Fines– You could be fined up to $15,000 for lower-level money laundering offenses, while the most serious offenses could result in fines of up to $200,000.
- Prison time– A third-degree money laundering conviction can result in up to five years in prison, while a first-degree conviction could result in 10 to 20 years behind bars.
- Anti-profiteering penalties– In addition to a base fine, prosecutors may impose anti-profiteering penalties of up to $500,000.
- Investigative requirements– You may be required to provide answers and information for prosecutors investigating offenses related to your charges.
Possible Defenses for Money Laundering Charges in New Jersey
One key factor in money laundering cases is intent. To convict you of money laundering, the prosecutor must prove that you acted knowingly. To that end, your attorney may recommend one or more of the following defenses for money laundering charges:
- The money was actually legitimate, so your actions were not unlawful.
- You were not aware that the money came from illegitimate activities.
- You were coerced, threatened, or blackmailed into laundering the money.
- There is not enough evidence to prove that you knew the funds were illegal or engaged in certain activities with the intent of disguising the funds.
Frequently Asked Questions About Money Laundering
Let’s review some straightforward answers to our most frequently asked questions about money laundering in New Jersey:
Is Money Laundering a Federal Crime?
Yes. In addition to being a state crime, the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 explicitly made money laundering a crime at the federal level. The government does not need to prove that you actually handled money or assisted in laundering it to charge you. A federal money laundering conviction can result in up to 20 years in prison.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Money Laundering in New Jersey?
Money laundering is typically prosecuted in New Jersey as an indictable crime, which is equivalent to a felony in other states. Most indictable crimes are subject to a five-year statute of limitations under the law, which means state prosecutors have five years from the date of the offense to file criminal charges against you.
The federal statute of limitations on money laundering is also five years.
Who Investigates Money Laundering?
At the federal level, the U.S. Department of the Treasury investigates suspected money laundering through the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI). Here in New Jersey, the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit (FIU) within the Division of State Police is responsible for money laundering investigations.
What Are the Three Levels of Money Laundering?
The three levels of money laundering offenses in New Jersey include:
- Third-degree money laundering– Laundering $74,999 or less in funds or keeping a financial institution from fulfilling legal reporting requirements
- Second-degree money laundering– Laundering $75,000 to $499,999
- First-degree money laundering– Laundering $500,000 or more