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Money Laundering

Laundering money is considered a white collar crime that carries massive legal, professional and personal implications for those who are convicted. Money laundering is nearly always charged as a federal offense and can result in harsh penalties and up to 20 years behind bars.


If you or a loved one are currently being investigated for money laundering, or have already been charged, it is highly advisable to retain experienced legal counsel immediately. Jeff King is a skilled money laundering attorney who provides aggressive criminal defense for individuals charged with white collar crimes in state and federal courts. After reviewing every detail of your case, Jeff King can explain potential money laundering penalties and strategies to help minimize charges and protect your legal rights. For 15 years, Jeff King has helped clients throughout the greater Dallas, Texas area successfully navigate the criminal justice system, ensuring that defendants are empowered to make important decisions that can significantly impact the rest of their lives.

What is Money Laundering?

The United States Department of the Treasury defines money laundering as “financial transactions in which criminals, including terrorist organizations, attempt to disguise the proceeds, sources or nature of their illicit activities.” In other words, laundering money is the process of making financial profits gleaned from illicit activities appear as if they came from legitimate sources. In theory, once the “dirty” money is cleaned, the criminal origins of the funds are not easily detected.


By some estimates, more than $400 billion is laundered every year in the United States alone, and according to the United States Sentencing Commission, nearly 100,000 Americans are convicted of some type of money laundering annually.


In contrast to other financial crimes, money laundering is noteworthy for the diversity of its methods, settings and participants which may include individuals, banks, corporations and drug trafficking cartels.

Money Laundering Examples

The following are some techniques used to launder ill-gotten funds into legitimate assets or money.

  • Cash-based business occurs when a legitimate business uses its corporate accounts to deposit money obtained through both legal and illegal means. Such businesses are often labeled “fronts.”
  • Shell companies and/or trusts that are employed to disguise the true owner of a large amount of money.
  • Cash smuggling – where cash is illegally smuggled into an offshore bank account or other financial institutions that protect client secrecy.
  • Structuring, also called “smurfing,” is a technique where large sums of cash are broken down into smaller sums which are then deposited into banks or other financial institutions over an extended period of time.
  • Real estate laundering – where real estate or property is bought with illegally-obtained funds and later sold to give the illusion of a legitimate profit.
  • Trade-based laundering, a form of embezzlement, in which invoices are purposely changed to disguise the movement of funds.

Stages of Money Laundering

Placement, layering, and integration are the three basic stages of laundering money. Placement is the act of introducing ill-gotten monies into the financial system. Layering is the process of concealing the origins of dirty money through complex transactions through shell companies or wire transfers to offshore accounts, making it harder to trace. The final step is integration, in which the money is placed back into the economy through ostensibly legal means.


In Texas, money laundering is a serious criminal offense. Under current penal statutes, defendants can be prosecuted and convicted if they knew the money in question was derived through some kind of criminal activity.

Money Laundering Texas Statutes & Penalties

Texas Penal Code § 34.02 sets forth strict penalties for money laundering offenses.

  • If the value of the funds is between $2,500 and  $30,000 – a state jail felony
  • If the value of the funds is between $30,000 and $150,000 – third degree felony
  • If the value of the funds is between $150,000 and $300,000 – a second degree felony
  • If the value of the funds is more than $300,000 – a first degree felony

Federal Money Laundering Laws

The federal government has enacted several laws designed to combat money laundering. 18 U.S.C. §1956 makes it a federal offense for an individual to engage in financial transactions with funds obtained through illegal means with the intent to promote or conceal the criminal activity. 18 U.S.C. §1957 makes it a federal crime for an individual to engage in financial transactions in amounts over $10,000, with the knowledge that the money was derived through criminal or other illicit activity.


Under the Patriot Act, both the Treasury Department and the IRS have authority to investigate suspected actions that violate federal money laundering statutes.


Depending on the exact nature of the money laundering crime, penalties may include steep fines, incarceration and probation.  As an example, a federal conviction can result in up to $500,000 in fines, or twice the value of money that was laundered – whichever amount is larger. Prison sentences can range from four years to 25 years, depending on the laws violated, the amount of money laundered, and if the defendant has prior convictions.


Needless to say, a money laundering conviction has grave repercussions that can ruin your life, which is why defendants need a qualified attorney who can develop an aggressive defense.

Successful Criminal Defense in Dallas, TX

Money laundering, along with other white collar crimes, can be prosecuted in federal court. For residents of Dallas, money laundering charges may arise in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. If you are under suspicion or have been accused of money laundering, criminal defense lawyer Jeff King offers confidential consultations to explore your legal options.


Jeff King boasts a proven track record of securing excellent results in criminal cases involving money laundering, insurance fraud and other white collar crimes.

Additional “Money Laundering” Resources:

  1. FFIEC, Money Laundering Control Act of 1986
  3. Business Pundit, 10 Most Notorious Money Laundering Cases of the 20th Century
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