Most major drug trafficking cases involve money laundering charges and asset forfeitures. In Colorado state court, money laundering is a class 3 felony. If you have been charged with money laundering or if asset forfeiture proceedings have been initiated, you should consult with and retain a criminal defense lawyer experienced in these areas of criminal law as soon as possible. If convicted, you may not only be incarcerated, but also wiped out financially. The government can take your house, cars, boats, planes, and loot your bank and brokerage accounts.
Money laundering cases can be extremely complex. Money laundering is an evolving area of the criminal law that involves many technical legal issues. You definitely need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in a money laundering case. To obtain a conviction for money laundering in federal court, the government must prove that the defendant knowingly conducted a financial transaction with proceeds of an unlawful activity either with the intent to promote the carrying on of the unlawful activity or with the knowledge that the transaction is designed to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds. 18 U.S.C. 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) and (a)(1)(B)
In essence, money laundering is the practice of engaging in financial transactions for the purpose of disguising the criminal enterprise that was the original source of the ill-gotten gains.
Drug trafficking, for example, generates cash profits. Lots and lots of cash. Piles, bundles and bags full of cash. Money laundering occurs when cash derived from criminal activity is disguised, concealed or made to look legitimate in order to avoid detection or assist further criminal activity. Money laundering usually involves the three stages of placement, layering and integration. International financial and real estate transactions are often involved. Money laundering cases usually require a detailed analysis of complex financial documents especially when the investigation focuses on the layering and integration stages. Forensic accountants may be hired as consultants and/or to testify in court. Mark Kraynak has immediate access to and relationships with all necessary forensic experts.
The penalties for money laundering are stiff. In federal court, a maximum of 20 years in prison can be meted out. In addition, a fine of $500,000.00 or twice the value of the money laundered may be imposed. As in all federal cases, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines control sentencing.
In addition to criminal prosecution, the government may commence a separate civil action to seize the property involved in the criminal activity. The government must prove that the asset was used to facilitate the commission of a crime, or was purchased with proceeds from the criminal activity. For example, if a house, car, boat, or plane was used to facilitate the commission of a crime the government may attempt to confiscate it. Likewise, if the target asset was purchased with money derived from illegal activities, the government can confiscate it. Each year both the Federal and Colorado governments make millions of dollars through forfeiture proceedings.
Criminal asset forfeiture is not limited to drug crimes. Prosecution of white-collar crimes can be accompanied by asset forfeiture actions. Certain cases even result in business asset seizure.
For more information about asset forfeiture, click here to visit the Cornell University School of Law website.