New State Law on the Books: Money Laundering in Florida
While money laundering isn’t a new crime under Florida law, lawmakers did recently pass a bill to expand the type of conduct that constitutes the offense. According to the Miami Herald, the state House and Senate enacted a measure on May 5, 2017 to include “virtual currency” within the definition of monetary instruments. The law is intended to address criminals who use Bitcoin in commission of their crimes, as the previous language of the statute only applied to recognized currencies in the US or foreign countries. If the bill is signed by the governor, as is expected, offenders will be charged with money laundering as well as the underlying crime. Money laundering is a violation of both state and federal law, so you’ll need a skilled Florida attorney to handle your defense if you’re facing charges.
Florida Money Laundering
Under state law, it’s a crime to conduct a financial transaction for purposes of concealing, disguising, or processing money obtained through criminal activity. The offense applies whenever funds are generated through any felony prohibited by Florida or federal law.
Penalties for Money Laundering Conviction
The charges and sentencing for money laundering depend upon the value of the financial transaction or series of transactions.
- First Degree Felony: Value exceeds $100,000 within a 12-month period. The maximum jail sentence is 30 years.
- Second Degree Felony: Value is within the range of $20,000 to $99,999 within a 12-month period. A conviction may lead to a prison sentence up to 15 years.
- Third Degree Felony: The value of the transactions is between $300 and $19,999 within a 12-month period. The maximum term of imprisonment is five years.
A sentence for money laundering may also include a fine, which also depends upon the value of the financial transactions. The Florida statute specifically states a fine of $250,000 or double the value of the transactions, whichever is greater.
Money laundering may also be a federal crime under the Money Laundering Control Act, if the conduct took place on federal property or was specifically declared illegal by lawmakers. The law was first passed in 1986, but it has been amended by subsequent bills – expanding the conduct that constitutes money laundering and strengthening the penalties. Recent laws enacted under the Act include provisions intended to address terrorism and terrorist organizations operating in the US.
Trust a Florida Money Laundering Lawyer with Your Defense
Financial crimes are serious matters under both Florida and federal law. With the recent bill expected to become effective in the coming weeks, virtual currencies like Bitcoin may soon fall under the umbrella of prohibited activity. A conviction for money laundering may carry double the charges for both the financial transaction and the underlying crime, so you’ll need a strong defense to avoid considerable penalties. Fort Lauderdale lawyer Kevin J. Kulik has extensive experience in both state and federal court, and can tell you more about your options for fighting the charges. Please contact our office today with questions or to set up a confidential consultation.