Money laundering is a crime that occurs in conjunction with other criminal activities. In Nevada, prosecutors often use money laundering charges to increase the penalties that a defendant faces. If you are facing money laundering charges, chances are that you are facing other charges too. When it comes to being charged with money laundering in Nevada, it’s crucial to obtain competent legal representation immediately. Even if you’re not convicted, merely being charged can negatively impact your reputation.
Defining Money Laundering in Nevada
By definition, money laundering means to knowingly mask the source of money that’s been obtained illegally. The charge is more specifically defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1956, “Laundering of monetary instruments.” The concept behind it is fairly simple to understand. Funds that are obtained through the course of illegal activities are camouflaged in a way that makes them appear to have been obtained legitimately.
Money laundering involves three basic steps:
- Placement – Funds that are acquired through criminal activities are put into the financial system. For instance, they may be deposited into a bank account.
- Layering – To mask their origins, the deposited funds are used in one or more transactions. For example, they may be broken into different denominations.
- Integration – The illegally obtained funds are distributed to one or more people. Typically, the person distributing the funds takes a cut as compensation.
Specific Unlawful Activities and Money Laundering
To meet the definition of money laundering in Nevada, the funds being laundered must have been obtained during the course of what are known as specific unlawful activities, or SUAs. Examples include:
- Human trafficking
- Drug crimes
Types of Money Laundering
Money laundering may be conducted in a variety of ways. A few examples include:
Casino Money Laundering – This is particularly relevant in Nevada. Basically, illegally obtained money is taken to a casino and turned into chips. After gambling for a while, the suspect trades in the remaining chips for a check that’s then deposited in a bank or otherwise placed into the financial system.
Cash-Intensive Business – The suspect may own a business that heavily relies on cash and then declares the illegally obtained money as earnings.
Trade-Based – Invoices may be over-valued, under-valued, doubled or otherwise altered to cover up the origins of the illegally obtained funds.
Bulk Cash Smuggling – Moving large amounts of money to a different jurisdiction. For instance, it may be deposited into an offshore bank account.
Real Estate – Buying property with illegally obtained money, selling it and collecting the proceeds.
Penalties for Money Laundering in Nevada
In the state of Nevada, someone who is convicted of the crime of money laundering faces up to 20 years in federal prison. They may also face fines of up to $500,000 or two times the value of the property that was allegedly laundered – whichever is greater.
Defenses for Money Laundering
Due to the very serious penalties that you may face for being charged with money laundering in Nevada, it’s crucial to obtain skilled legal representation. An experienced attorney can help build a strong defense for you. The type of defense strategy that’s used will depend on the particulars of your case. One common strategy is showing that there was no intent to launder the money. Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant knowingly disguised the source of the money, so this is often a viable strategy. Another option is to show that money laundering didn’t occur in the first place. Simply having illegally obtained money in your possession does not mean money laundering occurred.
Regardless of the circumstances of your case, it’s critical to retain a knowledgeable lawyer who is familiar with money laundering laws in Nevada.
At Weiner Law Group, we are here to help you face charges and fight them. Don’t face money laundering, or any criminal matters alone. Call our office at 702-202-0500 or explore our site to learn more about how we can help you fight money laundering charges.