Most people don't realize that a federal criminal money laundering case can take many forms. It's confusing because you look at the law on this subject. Many of these websites are just spouting off a bunch of statutes without explaining — without breathing any life into the subject matter — because people sometimes when they get arrested or indicted for money laundering, can't even figure out what they've done wrong.
Illegally Obtained Money or Credit Line
The issue is that you basically have proceeds or money or a credit line — whatever the case may be — something of value or benefit, and it's illegally obtained. That's the first thing the government has to prove. Where did you get those funds? Where did you get that money? Is it lawfully obtained?
Because if it's lawfully obtained, then what's the issue or problem? So, the first thing they must prove to get you for a money laundering case at the federal level is that whatever money, funds, or credit line is illegally obtained.
Once they prove that, now they have to show — so that you understand the concept — you're trying to clean that money. In other words, let's say that someone's got a vast drug enterprise and is making thousands of dollars in that enterprise.
They want to inject that money into a business, so they start putting it into it. They start running the money through the business's financial accounts or into the business itself. Then they're taking out money from the business or building it up with ill-gotten gains.
Attempting to “Clean” Money Through Business Account
That's money laundering. That's someone taking funds from an illegal enterprise, putting that money into a business account, and trying to clean it. This is probably one of the most simplistic examples.
That's just one example. There are many examples of money being moved through an account, and it's also at the international level where people are moving money. It's at the domestic level; in both scenarios, someone can be charged with federal money laundering.
So, suppose you have a scenario where you're being charged with federal money laundering, and you can't even figure out what you've done wrong. In that case, you must get to a federal criminal defense attorney immediately.
Sometimes, you can't figure out what you've done wrong because you haven't done anything wrong. If that's that circumstance — if the money you're receiving is not illegally obtained — that would be the first form of defense to block a federal money laundering allegation.
So, start with the end in mind. Start with either I did something wrong and I need to figure out how to fix that, or I didn't do anything wrong, and I need to figure out how to prove that. And you have to huddle up with your attorney.
You have to give him your version of events because sometimes law enforcement needs to take the time to get your version of events and once your version of events is out there, you're in a position to be able to win your case.
Sometimes, in a money laundering case, getting your version of events gives you the ability to mitigate things — to lessen the charges. Sometimes you can negotiate with the government on different levels that you wouldn't have even thought of once you get a good attorney who knows your story and can begin helping you get the result you must have.
What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid?
If you or a loved one is charged with money laundering, you want to ensure that you don't do anything that could put you in a worse position. One example would be cooperating with the authorities. That's a big common mistake that I see people make. They'll meet with the government. They'll talk with them. They'll answer all of their questions.
They'll provide them with documentation. Usually, what government agents are doing is just gathering evidence against you to make sure they have an air-tight prosecution against you.
So, please don't make the common mistake of cooperating with the authorities when they're investigating you, or you've been charged with money laundering. What you should do right off the top is hire an attorney. Let that attorney do the talking for you. Let that attorney decide what, if any, cooperation you are going to give. Let the attorney deal with the agents and prosecutors.
So, don't make the common mistake of thinking you'll be able to deal with everything yourself, hoping for the best, and not getting an attorney involved.
Another common mistake I see people make is doing nothing. They bury their head in the sand. They know they're being investigated or arrested and don't do anything. They go on with their life without taking any preemptive moves to help themselves.
What I have you do is come in. We review the entire case and start to design a plan to help you – to put you in the best possible position. Once you realize what you're up against, once you know what you can do to help your attorney and what your attorney is going to do to try to put you in the best position, then you'll feel more at ease because you'll know you're doing everything you can to defend yourself in your federal criminal case.
So, if you or a loved one is charged with money laundering, you want to hire a lawyer immediately. Do not give any information to anyone, especially law enforcement. Give your attorney the full detailed story about what happened, so your attorney can number one, best advise you, and number two, best represent you.
I've been handling these money laundering cases since the early 1990s as a federal criminal defense attorney, and that's who you want to hire if you're charged with money laundering – someone who has been defending people for many years – not necessarily a former prosecutor. If you or a loved one is accused of money laundering at the federal level, pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.