Money laundering laws seek to penalize individuals or organizations using financial transactions to hide the proceeds of unlawful activities in the state of Florida. Individuals accused of money laundering may face criminal charges in the Florida state courts or in federal court. Charges of money laundering often accompany racketeering charges or investigations of organized crime. The following chart provides an overview of Florida's money laundering laws:
|Proving Money Laundering
Florida law defines money laundering as a financial transaction or series of transactions used to conceal, disguise, hide, or process money and other proceeds generated through criminal activity. The proceeds may be gained through any felony prohibited by state or federal laws. A prosecutor must show that the defendant knew about the underlying criminal activity or the unlawful source of the proceeds. The prosecutor must also prove that the defendant knew about the intended use of the financial transaction to protect the proceeds gained from criminal activities.
Many types of financial transactions can qualify as money laundering under Florida money laundering laws. Activities such as purchases, sales, monetary gifts, loans, bank deposits, wire transfers, currency exchanges, and investments might all qualify as financial transactions for the purpose of money laundering. Transfers of title to real property, cars, and other types of vehicles can also qualify as money laundering if used to hide the proceeds from unlawful activities.
|Defenses to Money Laundering Charges
- Lack of knowledge regarding the source or intended purpose of the money
- Entrapment arranged by police or law enforcement officials
|Penalties and Sentences
The potential sentence for a money laundering offense in Florida depends on the value of the financial transactions made by the defendant. In general, state law requires the prosecution of money laundering as
- A third degree felony if the transaction values total between $300 and $20,000 within a twelve-month period;
- A second degree felony if the transaction values total between $20,000 and $100,000 within a twelve-month period; and
- A first degree felony if the transaction values exceed $100,000 within a twelve-month period.
Florida state laws set a range of maximum sentences for money laundering felonies. A third degree felony may result in a sentence of imprisonment for up to five years, while a second degree felony can increase the sentence to a term of fifteen years. A first degree felony may increase the potential sentence to a maximum term of thirty years.
A conviction on money laundering charges may also require the payment of a fine to the state. Florida money laundering laws specifically allow a fine of $250,000 or double the total amount of the financial transactions; the amount of the fine depends on whichever amount is greater. If the defendant has a prior conviction for money laundering, the fine can increase to $500,000 or five times the total amount of the financial transactions.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Get Legal Help with Your Money Laundering Case in Florida
Money laundering prosecutions often involve multiple charges, each of which alone would carry serious penalties. For this reason, it would be wise to reach out to a local criminal defense attorney if you've been charged under Florida's money laundering laws.