New Brunswick Money Laundering Attorney
Money Laundering Charges in Middlesex County, New Jersey
If you have been arrested for money laundering in New Jersey then you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. You also may be looking a lawyer to help you sort through this mess. This article touches upon many of the common questions we come across from clients and prospective clients charged with various forms of money laundering. We also included valuable information about the crime itself that we learned from years of experience in New Jersey courtrooms. For instance, what exactly constitutes money laundering; what happens if you’ve been charged with money laundering; the penalties and sentencing for money laundering charges; and how a criminal defense attorney may be able to help beat a money laundering case.
What is Money Laundering?
Well the answer to that question can be a bit complicated. And you’d be surprised to learn that even most attorneys don’t have a clear understanding of the money laundering law in New Jersey under 2C:21-25. To help simplify this explanation we have broken down money laundering into essentially 4 different distinct criminal acts.
Possession of Illegal Money or Property 2C:21-25a
This subsection deals with situations when someone transports or possesses property known or which a reasonable person should know to be derived from criminal activity. We typically see this charge when someone is arrested and the police find a large amount of cash on their person or in their vehicle.
Transaction to Promote Criminal Activity 2C:21-25b(1)
This part of the statute deals with people who have engaged in a transaction involving property which is known or should be known to have be derived from criminal activity with the intent to facilitate or promote criminal activity.
Oversight of Illegal Funds 2C:21-25c
This part of the statute is geared towards organized crime and targets people who direct, organize, finance, plan, manage, supervise or control the transportation of property or transactions that a reasonable person would believe to be derived from criminal activity.
Transactions To Conceal Criminal Funds 2C:21-25b(2)
This includes any transaction involving property that a reasonable person would believe to be derived from criminal activity knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part:
- to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership or control of the property derived from criminal activity or;
- to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under the laws of this State or any other state or of the United States.
Why Am I Charged With Money Laundering?
When the average person thinks of the term “money laundering” they picture a drug kingpin or mob boss cleaning the dirty money which is the proceeds of criminal activity and drug sales. In the movies you often see the crime boss give a crooked banker a million dollars of “dirty” money and receive half a million back of “clean” money with little explanation as to how the cleaning process took place. However, in the real world money laundering happens a lot more frequently then you would think and its not just the crime bosses that are doing it. In fact let me give you a common real life example – you find a lost wallet containing a credit card which you then use to purchase an amazon gift card – you just committed the crime of money laundering. You effectively converted the stolen dirty money (credit card) into clean money (amazon gift card) which you can now use to purchase merchandise without tipping anyone off that the original funds may have come from a stolen credit card. Another common scenario we come across is a guy gets pulled over and the cops find thousands of dollars of cash in the car. The guy says it my cash and I earned it legally but unless he can produce some paperwork or receipt from where the cash came from, he will likely get charged with money laundering. Back in the day it was commonplace for people carry a lot more cash around with them, but these days with phone apps and credit cards, large amounts of cash often raise eyebrows. And if you are found with a large amount of cash without a good explanation it is almost always assumed that the cash has come from an illegal source or criminal activity, and that again is money laundering.
How Can An Old Bridge Money Laundering Lawyer Help Me?
The prosecutor’s office always considers money laundering charges very serious but they can often be tough to prove when the evidence shakes out. We will challenge the State’s case at every turn and the challenge the evidence pertaining to the source of the money. And for this reason, our Middlesex County criminal lawyers have achieved some exceptional results for clients charged with money laundering in the past. These results include, (1) a 3rd degree money laundering charge outright dismissed and money returned after we produced documents to demonstrating the source of the funds; (2) a 2nd degree money laundering charge involving approximately $250,000 accepted into PTI without a plea so the client could have the case dismissed and avoid any immigration consequences; and (3) a 2nd degree money laundering involving over $80,000 downgraded to a disorderly persons offense for obstruction of justice. To learn more about how our attorneys may be able to help you or your loved one, contact our office today at (732) 659-9600. We would be happy to address your concerns and answer any questions during a free consultation.
What Happens After I’ve Been Charged With Money Laundering?
Well the first thing to remember is that money laundering is always a felony in New Jersey. However, instead of saying “felony” our state refers to them as indictable crimes. All indictable crimes will be sent to the Superior Court of the county in which they took and will be prosecuted by the county prosecutor’s office. So for instance, even if you were charged with money laundering in Sayreville, North Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway or Woodbridge the case will be sent to the Middlesex County Superior Courthouse at 56 Paterson Street in New Brunswick. At the time of your arrest you will most likely receive a date for an initial appearance called CJP (Criminal Judicial Processing). This is typically just a tracking date for the Court to “screen” the case and open your file in their system. From there, the next you court date you receive will normally be PIC (Pre-Indictment Court). At PIC you will receive a copy of the evidence against you and initial plea offer from the prosecutor’s office. If you choose not to accept this pre-indictment plea, your case will be sent to the grand jury, and if indicted, eventually scheduled down the line if plea negotiations fall through.
Penalties & Sentencing for Money Laundering in New Jersey
Like many theft and financial based crimes in New Jersey, the law dictates the potential penalties and sentence on the amount of illegal money in question. It is important to note that amount of money in question is something that would be determined by the jury (trier of fact).
- $500,000 or more = 1st degree crime (10 – 20 years in state prison)
- Presumption of state prison incarceration even as first time offender
- Between 1/3 – 1/2 of the sentence must be served before becoming eligible for parole
- $499,999 – $75,000 = 2nd degree crime (5 – 10 years in state prison)
- Presumption of state prison incarceration even as first time offender
- $74,999 or below = 3rd degree crime (3-5 years in state prison)
- Presumption against state prison if this is your first time in trouble
Sentencing – Money laundering is one of the only crimes where the law does not allow the charges to merge with other related crimes at the time of sentencing. Moreover, the state prison sentence for money laundering will have to be run consecutive to the other criminal charges which constituted the original crime of where the illegal money or property came from.
Fines & Restitution – Not only can you be ordered to pay back all the money taken in the form of restitution if the court finds there are victims who suffered a loss but the court can also impose fines. Fines for money laundering can be staggering compared to other crimes, and the law allows the court to impose up $500,000 in fines.
Contact Our North Brunswick Money Laundering Attorneys For A Free Consultation
Because money laundering deals with a transaction or possession of illegal funds, there will normally be an underlying crime pertaining to where the money came from. It is for this very reason that we often see companion charges in a lot of our money laundering cases such as theft by deception, credit card theft, fencing, drug distribution, receiving stolen property or forgery. The prosecutor will often try to use these additional counts as leverage and lean on a defendant to take a plea because the money laundering statute says that, if convicted, the crimes will not merge and the sentencing for money laundering will have to be run consecutive to all other crimes basically “stacking” your sentence. An experience criminal attorney can be instrumental when it comes to challenging the State’s case and pushing back if the evidence doesn’t add up. That is why choosing the right lawyer can sometimes mean the difference between a dismissal or a conviction. At Proetta & Oliver we take matters like this very seriously and that is why we offer prospective clients free consultations. We will take the time to the learn about the specific facts of your case and give you an honest assessment of your defense based on our experience.