Money Laundering Only Under Texas Penal Code 34.01
According to the statute, a person commits an offense if the person knowingly acquires, possesses, transfers, or uses the proceeds of criminal activity. And if they intend to promote the commission of an offense, evade the legal consequences of an offense, or avoid the assessment, collection, or payment of a tax.
The offense can apply to various types of transactions involving illicit funds, including but not limited to financial transactions, investments, or the acquisition or disposition of property.
Money laundering under Section 34.01 of the Texas Penal Code is generally classified as a felony offense. The severity of the offense and the corresponding penalties depend on the value of the funds involved in the money laundering activity.
If the value of the funds is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000, it is a state jail felony, punishable by a prison term of 180 days to two years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the value of the funds is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000, it is a third-degree felony, carrying a prison sentence of two to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the value of the funds is $150,000 or $300,000, then it is a second-degree felony, punishable by a prison term of two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the value of the funds is $300,000 or more, then it is a first-degree felony, punishable by a prison term of five to 99 years or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
It's important to consult the full text of the Texas Penal Code or seek legal advice from a qualified professional for a comprehensive understanding of money laundering laws in Texas, including any updates or amendments to the statutes.
Why Is It Called Money Laundering?
The term "money laundering" originates from a metaphorical association with the process of cleaning or laundering dirty or stained money to make it appear clean. The practice of money laundering involves taking illegally obtained funds, which often come from criminal activities, and disguising their true source to make them appear legitimate.
The term gained prominence in the 1920s during the Prohibition era in the United States when organized crime groups were involved in illegal activities, particularly the illegal sale of alcohol. At that time, some criminal organizations used laundromats to mix their illicitly obtained money with legitimate business funds. By doing so, they aimed to give the appearance of "clean" money that had been earned through legal means. This process was metaphorically likened to laundering or cleaning the illegally obtained money.
The term "money laundering" stuck and became widely used to describe the process of disguising the origins of illicit funds by integrating them into the legitimate economy. Over time, the term has come to encompass a range of methods and techniques used to transform the tainted proceeds of crime into seemingly legitimate assets or funds.
Money laundering is now recognized as a serious criminal offense worldwide, and governments and international organizations have implemented measures to combat this illicit practice. The term "money laundering" continues to be used to describe this process of concealing the true nature of illegally obtained funds.
Where Can Money Laundering Happen?
Money laundering can occur in various locations and through different types of financial systems.
Banks and other financial institutions are commonly used for money laundering due to their ability to handle large volumes of funds and provide a range of financial services. Criminals may deposit illicit funds into bank accounts, transfer funds between accounts, or engage in complex transactions to obscure the origin of the money.
Money service businesses, such as money transmitters, currency exchanges, and prepaid card providers, can be utilized for money laundering. Criminals may use these businesses to convert illicit cash into legitimate forms of payment or move funds across borders.
The gambling industry, including casinos, can be vulnerable to money laundering. Criminals may convert illicit funds into chips or play games to create the appearance of legitimate winnings. They can then cash out the funds, effectively legitimizing the proceeds of crime.
Real estate transactions and high-value assets, such as luxury cars, artwork, or jewelry, can be used to launder money. Criminals may purchase properties or assets using illicit funds and then sell them to transform the tainted money into seemingly legitimate proceeds.
Offshore financial centers and tax havens are attractive destinations for money laundering due to their relaxed regulations, secrecy, and complex corporate structures. Criminals may establish shell companies or open accounts in these jurisdictions to hide the true ownership and origin of funds.
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have gained popularity among money launderers due to their pseudonymous nature and potential for cross-border transactions. Criminals may use digital currencies to transfer and convert illicit funds, making it more challenging to trace the money's origin and destination.
Trade-based money laundering involves manipulating international trade transactions to disguise the movement of illicit funds. Criminals may over or under-invoice goods, misrepresent the quality or quantity of goods, or engage in other fraudulent trade practices to transfer funds across borders.
It's important to note that money laundering can occur in various other sectors and industries, depending on the specific methods and strategies employed by criminals. Efforts to combat money laundering involve regulatory measures, international cooperation, and the implementation of robust AML frameworks in various sectors to detect and prevent illicit financial activities.
Are There Any Defenses Against Money Laundering Charges?
Yes, individuals accused of money laundering can mount various defenses to challenge the charges. The availability and success of these defenses depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Here are some common defenses that can be used against money laundering charges.
Money laundering charges typically require proof that the defendant knowingly engaged in the financial transactions with the intent to conceal the illicit origin of the funds. A defense strategy may involve arguing that the accused had no knowledge of the illegal source of the funds or lacked the intent to engage in money laundering.
Defendants can challenge the prosecution's evidence by asserting that it is insufficient to prove their involvement in money laundering beyond a reasonable doubt. This can involve questioning the credibility or reliability of witnesses, challenging the admissibility of evidence, or pointing out inconsistencies or gaps in the prosecution's case.
If the defense can establish that the funds in question had a lawful origin, it can undermine the money laundering charges. Providing evidence to demonstrate that the funds came from legitimate sources can challenge the prosecution's assertion that the money was proceeds of criminal activity.
If entrapment occurs where law enforcement induces or coerces an individual to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. If the defense can prove that the accused was induced or coerced by law enforcement into engaging in money laundering, it can be raised as a defense.
Procedural or Constitutional Violations: Defendants can challenge the legality of the investigation, search, or seizure conducted by law enforcement. If there were violations of constitutional rights, such as unlawful searches or Miranda rights violations, the evidence obtained may be suppressed, potentially weakening the prosecution's case.
Insufficient Money Laundering Predicate Offense: In some cases, money laundering charges require an underlying "predicate offense" or the original illegal activity that generated the illicit funds. If the defense can show that there was no predicate offense or that the prosecution failed to establish a connection between the alleged illegal activity and the money laundering charges, it can undermine the case.
It's important to note that each case is unique, and the viability of these defenses depends on the specific facts and evidence involved. If you or someone you know is facing money laundering charges, it is essential to consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney who can assess the case, provide legal advice, and develop an appropriate defense strategy.
Need Help? Call Us Now!
Do not forget that when you or anyone you know is facing a criminal charge, you have us, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, by your side to help you build the best defense case for you. We will work and be in your best interest for you and we will obtain the best possible outcome that can benefit you. We can explain everything you need to know about your trial and how to defend your case best. We can help you step by step through the criminal process.
Therefore, do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know that is facing criminal charges unsure about the court system. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain the result of the charge to you and guide you in the best possible way.
Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have professional and knowledgeable criminal law attorneys who are experienced in building a defense case for you that suits your needs for the best possible outcome that can benefit you.
Also, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you are given a free consultation at your convenience. You may choose to have your appointment via Zoom, google meet, email, or an in-person appointment; and we will provide you with as much advice and information as possible so you can have the best possible result in your case.
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