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Building a Defense for DC Federal Money Laundering Charges

There are a number of different angles a DC federal money laundering lawyer may be able to use to build a strong defense in a money laundering case. One angle is that the money was not ill-gotten. If there is a way to put forth that defense theory, then that cuts off the money laundering charge at its root. However, if that is not going to be a viable defense, or does not seem to have a high likelihood of success, then the attorney may not pursue it as aggressively as other areas.

Other angles include looking at the source of the funds, the basis of knowledge of the client, whether they had any specific knowledge that this money was ill-gotten, if the money actually concealed, and where the money went. To discuss which angle may be most beneficial in your case, call and schedule a consultation today.

Elements of Money Laundering

When looking at a money laundering case and trying to build a defense, it is important to look at the money that is allegedly involved, as well as the money’s location, such as if the money at issue is in a bank account. Tracing back purchase information or deposit information for the bank account is also helpful in building a defense.

The next step is to establish where the money came from. This establishment involves determining if there is an alternative explanation that does not involve an illegal source, and if there are records that support that explanation. It also involves determining if it is possible for there to be a legal source for that money and if there is a way to easily explain that source to a jury.

All of this is designed to raise reasonable doubt. Often a client can help with that endeavor to show that there is a legal source for the money, which may lead to more witnesses or to other sources of money. Sometimes, an attorney is able to show that it is not the money that is the issue, rather that the money was not received illegally. For example, in a government procurement fraud case, if the attorney can show that there was not government procurement fraud or that there is reasonable doubt about the government procurement fraud issue, then the money laundering charge fails.

Defense Approach

When a criminal defense attorney builds a defense to criminal charges against their client, they do an investigation to learn all of the facts. The attorney determines the evidence that can be helpful to the defense and identifies evidence that can be harmful to the defense.

It is important to know what the government is using to prove their case against the client. The defense attorney locates possible witnesses and identifies any physical evidence, such as documents. Monetary transactions occur almost exclusively via the Internet or online. Often, the transactions are conducted online and the records are kept in electronic format. The defense attorney examines those records, which are especially significant in money laundering cases. The government relies on bank records, specific transactions, and foundational evidence such as witnesses and statements.

When building a defense, the lawyer looks for evidence to secure and present in court that challenges the government’s case. The lawyer develops a thorough understanding of what evidence could be harmful to their client to specifically prepare a plan to address the harmful evidence.

Common Defense Strategies

Common defense strategies would include:

  • That the source of the funds was not anything illegal
  • That the client did not have any specific knowledge that the money was ill-gotten
  • That the money was not concealed.

Often in these cases, the amount of money is in dispute. That is important to understand because the government may allege that they can prove there was a certain amount of money laundered. If the money doesn’t end up in a bank account, the government often relies on the forensic accountant.

If the expert says that they have extrapolated from a supposed transaction that there was that same sum of money, that is where a federal money laundering attorney will attack the assumptions underlying the forensic accountant’s opinion. If the attorney can show that those underlying assumptions are flawed, then they can attempt to knock down the amount of the alleged ill-gotten gain, which can really affect the overall results.

If the attorney shows, as part of the defense to the government’s case, that there is a reasonable doubt that the government found a few million dollars, the amount is, for example, more likely $25,000, it has a huge effect on the potential end result of the case.

Unique Aspects of Defending Money Laundering

Money laundering cases are very interesting because of the overall nature of the allegation and the fact that it involves tracing back to the source of funds. This, in turn, means there are many ways to challenge the cases, such as through the concealment issue, whether or not it’s actually concealment, and whether or not the money is illegally obtained. There are various ways to explore these cases which makes each case different, interesting, and challenging.

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