Money laundering is the process of giving a legal appearance to funds generated through illegal activities. These funds often come from drug trafficking, arms dealing or tax evasion schemes. You may not partake in these unlawful activities yourself. But if you help criminals “wash” their money, you have aided them.

The consequences of laundering money are steep. But by understanding them, you can prepare for the impact they may have on your life and career.

money laundering

The consequences of laundering money

By Arizona law, money laundering is a felony. But your punishment will depend on your role. You may have helped transfer laundered money but did not organize a scheme. In this case, you will likely receive 3rd Degree charges. These charges are punishable by a prison sentence of up to six years. You could also face a fine of $2000 or more. If you had a stake in a scheme, made property available or laundered over $100,000, you will receive at least 2nd Degree charges. You then may face almost nine years in prison. And you’ll have to repay – through fine or forfeiture – three times the amount of the money laundered. If you directed a laundering scheme, you become eligible for 1st Degree charges. You will then face up to 12.5 years in prison and may have to pay a fine up to triple the laundered sum.

The defense against money laundering charges

You may have been part of a bad business deal with a launderer. And they may have threatened you unless you assisted in their operation. This situation qualifies as duress. Duress signifies that you engaged in the scheme against your better judgment due to violence or threats made by a third party. You may also deal with the launderer’s funds as part of your job, but not as the primary source of your business. If you work in banking or accounting, this could be the extent of your involvement. You could then claim that you possessed a lack of intent. This argument indicates you had no desire to conceal the laundered funds because you were unaware of their origins.

Money laundering is a serious crime. Any involvement – whether purposeful or accidental – can carry serious repercussions. If you receive money laundering charges, working with a criminal defense lawyer can provide you the help you need.