In a federal money laundering case, the initial part of the case focuses on the underlying crime. When the money in question comes from criminal activity, the government prosecutes the defendants for their underlying criminal activity as well. Because of the force and focus of the prosecution, it is essential before, during, and after a DC federal money laundering investigation to retain the services of a qualified lawyer. An attorney with extensive local experience will be in the best position to anticipate and prepare for the arguments and accusations facing you in and out of court.
In the process of investigating a money laundering case, the defense attorney identifies potential witnesses and physical evidence and analyzes any pertinent records. Some lawyers employ full-time investigators and have an investigative staff that locates evidence, interviews witnesses, conducts background checks, and secures records using subpoenas to obtain the information needed to defend the client in court.
The government must prove that the person or persons acted knowingly in their attempt to disguise money from criminal activity as lawfully obtained money. They must show that the person engaged in a monetary transaction and did so with the intent to disguise the nature of the source of those funds.
The key is challenging what is often an assumption by the government. Many times, they do not have an eyewitness or a confession. They rely on circumstantial evidence that shows one transaction occurred in one place and later on, a second transaction occurred in a different place. The government tries to use that circumstantial evidence to connect the dots and imply that there was the unlawful intent. The defense strategy is to challenge the assumption that there was a criminal intent.
With regard to specific money laundering charges, any witnesses the government has in a criminal activity case can be the same witnesses involved in at least part of the money laundering.
Because the penalties are so harsh in federal court, any federal case that involves a conspiracy usually involves at least one witness who decides to cooperate with the government. Typically, they accept a plea agreement and testify against the other defendants in exchange for a reduced punishment.
The person the government gives the best offer to is the individual who can completely outline and establish what took place throughout the whole conspiracy at every phase, and who can testify to the facts. The government attempts to get a cooperating witness to come in and lay that all out.
There is always documentary evidence in a financial case. With financial fraud, there are numerous documents and electronic transfers of money flowing from one bank account to another including deposits, credits, and more.
There can be surveillance of an account being used in a money laundering scheme. The government wants surveillance to identify who deposited the money under investigation and used that account.
The government needs witnesses and evidence to show where the money was coming from. In a money laundering case, by definition, the money starts from criminal activity. The government must show who was involved and how they tried to use that money to make it appear the funds were legitimate.
Federal agencies are usually involved in investigating money laundering offenses. It does not have to be exclusively federal agencies but they are often involved because money laundering offenses are federal crimes. It is not uncommon to have a case begin as a state-level investigation. For example, someone is caught dealing drugs in DC. As a result, one or two people are involved and are arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department.
In the early stage of the investigation, someone arrested agrees to cooperate and identify the source of the drugs. At that juncture, the Metropolitan Police Department may continue with their own investigation; but it is also likely that they consider bringing in the Drug Enforcement Administration. Depending on how high the alleged operation goes and how far reaching it is, the case may turn into a federal case with the DEA and the FBI involved. The type of financial transactions taking place might also require the involvement of the United States Postal Service and inspectors from the postal department if mail fraud is charged.
Crimes stemming from a drug deal are probably not going to involve the FCC. But a major financial fraud case could involve the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Treasury Department. An agency that has the resources, the expertise, and the jurisdiction will investigate a financial fraud case.
Considering the level of resources being devoted to your prosecution, it is in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced DC federal money laundering lawyer.
In any federal case, the FBI becomes involved when the case involves drugs. The DEA and Treasury are involved in a case that involves finances. Federal agencies can be involved in a money laundering case. Having a qualified attorney fighting on your behalf is the most likely way to achieve the best outcome possible.