Money Laundering Laws in Nevada: Definition, Penalties, Defenses, and More
When most people think of money laundering they of what we have all seen in the movies for example drug dealers using money from drug proceeds to open or pay for businesses like hair salons or restaurants. Money laundering is a serious crime that falls under the category of white-collar crimes.
It is possible for individuals to become unwilling participants in money laundering without realizing it. For instance, small business owners may be targeted like in the case of this Nevada woman who was charged with money laundering in a $7 million Ponzi scheme.
If you are facing money laundering charges, it’s crucial you contact a criminal defense attorney right away. The Defenders is an experienced criminal defense law firm in Nevada and can help you fight money laundering charges. Contact our team for a free case evaluation today.
What Is Money Laundering in Nevada
Knowingly making money from an illegal to seem legitimate is considered the Federal crime of Money Laundering.
There are three steps that take place when someone attempts to launder money.
- Placement: This is the process of taking, usually cash from an illegal activity and placing it into the financial system. For example, taking cash from drug sales and depositing it into the bank.
- Layering: Once the illegal money has been placed into the financial system, it is then used in one or more financial transactions that are meant to hide the money’s origin. An example of this is taking the same drug sale money and turning it into different currencies and denominations.
- Integration: After the drug money has been layered, it is distributed to one or more individuals as wealth. For instance, if you deposit the drug sale funds in a bank and the bank manager converts the money into different currencies and denominations, they may keep a portion as payment and return the remainder to the drug dealers.
These three elements do not have to be present to be considered money laundering.
Money laundering doesn’t need to involve a bank or a business. Just by taking cash that derived from illegal activity and giving it to another person would qualify as a money laundering transaction as long as the person intended to conceal the money’s original source.
What Are the Ways to Launder Money
There are various ways that qualify as money laundering such as:
- Trade-Based: Masking the flow of cash by undervaluing, overvaluing or double invoicing business receipts
- Real-Estate: Buying buildings or land with illegal funds and then turning around and selling them.
- Bulk Cash Smuggling: Taking the illegally obtained funds into different jurisdictions and depositing them into an offshore account or another financial institution
- Black Salaries: Paying unregistered employees with laundered money
- Structuring or Stuffing: Splitting bank deposits into smaller amounts to avoid monetary transaction reporting.
- Cash-Intensive businesses: A business is set up to receive illegally obtained cash and than reports it as legal earnings
- Bank Capture: Transferring an amount of money through a bank where money launderers have a controlling interest.
- Trust and Shell Companies: These are set up and created to allow money to be stored without revealing who the true owner is.
- Laundering through casinos: Converting cash from illegal activities to casino chips and then converting the chips back to cash. This is very common in Nevada and Las Vegas.
- Tax Evasion: Failing to report transactions of more than $10,000 to the IRS.
In any of these types of money laundering transactions, there is no minimum amount of cash to be a crime in Nevada.
However, oftentimes, money laundering involves big sums of money.
Also, you can still be prosecuted for money laundering even if your attempt at money laundering fails.
The form of the money doesn’t matter either, it can be:
- Money Orders
- Other negotiable instruments
What Are the Elements of Money Laundering Under Federal Criminal Law?
The main element of money laundering in Nevada is that the money at issue was derived from specific criminal activity.
Specified Unlawful Activities or SUA’s include nearly every serious federal crime including:
- Violent crimes like murder, kidnapping, and robbery
- Extortion, theft or embezzlement
- Drug manufacturing or trafficking
- RICO, Racketeering, organized crime
- Human Trafficking
- Mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud
- Child Pornography
- Export and trade violations
Some other elements of money laundering depends on whether the crime involved:
- Domestic money laundering within the United States; and/or
- International money laundering involving a foreign country; and/or
- Money Laundering String operations
Another point to consider is whether the defendant was involved in promoting, concealing, or evading reporting of Specified Unlawful Activity (SUA).
What Are the Penalties for Money Laundering in the U.S
The penalties for money laundering depends on the specifics of the case. The federal money laundering convictions carry a penalty of:
- Up to twenty years in federal prison and/ or
- Up to a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering scheme whatever is greater.
Defendants who are convicted of money laundering in Nevada also face civil penalties such as asset forfeiture and may be required to pay restitution.
How Can You Fight the Charges of Money Laundering
Your defense team will use one or more of three common defenses against money laundering charges:
No Money Laundering Occurred
Having money obtained from criminal activity is not by itself money laundering.
If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no financial transaction made with the proceeds from a criminal act then the defendant should not be held liable for money laundering. However, the defendant may be held accountable for any underlying crime.
No Intent to Money Launder
It is only considered money laundering if the financial transaction was intended to hide the source of the money.
If it can’t be proven that the financial transaction was intended to launder criminal proceeds then the defendant should not be held liable for money laundering. Again the defendant can be held accountable for the underlying crimes.
Police or other law enforcement agencies carry out large scale undercover operations to uncover money laundering schemes. If the police have uncovered evidence of money laundering without going through the proper channels, the defense team can request a motion to suppress evidence.
A motion to suppress asks the court to disregard all evidence that was obtained illegally by the police. Without this evidence the case could be too weak to prosecute.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Money Laundering?
The statute of limitations in Nevada for bringing money laundering charges against a defendant is 5 years after the alleged incident.
Why Should You Hire Our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys
Most people don’t have a lot of information or knowledge about law enforcement or how the legal system works.
Hiring a legal team that understands and has the knowledge and how court systems work is very important if you have been charged with a crime.
A criminal defense lawyer will apply their legal skills and years of experience in the courtroom to apply them to the specifics of your case.
Every criminal case is different and requires legal experts that deal with a particular crime.
Trying to navigate your case without a lawyer is not a good idea and is very detrimental and risky.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer is connected to others within the legal system, so your case won’t be the attorney’s first experience in court. Our defense team knows the procedures, the courthouse staff, the judges, the jury selection process and the local laws and the loopholes.
When you don’t have an attorney representing you, there are a number of things that could go wrong.
Our attorneys will use all available resources to reduce penalties whenever possible. We can also arrange plea and settlement agreements if it’s in the best interest of our client. Although we cannot fully shield you from prosecution, we will work to investigate the charges using evidence and fight to maintain a clean criminal record.
Call us at (702) 333-3333 for a free case evaluation if you are facing money laundering charges.