Money earned through criminal activity can pose a unique problem. It often can't be spent because doing so would raise questions about how the money was earned. This has led to a practice that Texas and other states consider a crime. The moneys are passed through a business or individual's accounts in order to provide them with a false origin, a process referred to as money laundering. The following chart provides an outline of the Texas money laundering law, the elements of the crime, penalties, and more:
||Texas Money Laundering Statute (Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 34, Section 34.02)
|Elements of the Crime of Money Laundering
Money laundering is a serious crime in Texas. It involves the defendant knowingly having an interest in, concealing, transferring, transporting or facilitating in any way a transaction involving the proceeds of a criminal activity. It may also involve investing these proceeds, receiving them, spending them, or financing them in any way.
It is important to note that Texas money laundering law does not require that the defendant knows about the criminal activity that gave rise to the proceeds in order to be convicted. Just knowing that the proceeds themselves have come from some type of criminal activity is enough. If a peace officer or someone acting at his direction has informed the defendant that the proceeds or funds are either from a criminal activity or are intended to help commit a criminal activity, the defendant will be presumed to have the required knowledge about the proceeds for a conviction.
Money laundering often involves racketeering or other criminal activity.
|Defenses Against Money Laundering Laws
- Lack of knowledge
- The defendant acted with the intention to facilitate the lawful seizure of the funds
- The transaction was necessary to preserve the defendant's right to representation as guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- The funds were for legal fees and the attorney did not know at the time they were paid to him that the funds were derived from criminal activity
|Penalties and Sentences
The severity of the penalty imposed depends on the amount of money at issue. The offense of money laundering carries the following charges for the following amounts of money:
- State jail felony: the value of the funds is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000;
- Third degree felony: the value of the funds is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000;
- Second degree felony: the value of the funds is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000;
- First degree felony: the value of the funds is $200,000 or more.
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.
Charged With Money Laundering? A Texas Defense Attorney Can Help
Money laundering crimes involve a lot of complicated defense challenges, including complex financial analysis, and can raise evidentiary issues that non-lawyers will find confusing. An experienced, skilled attorney can help unravel the more complicated aspects of your money laundering charge. Get started today and contact a Texas criminal defense lawyer in your area.