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Money Laundering NY Defense Attorney

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Facing money laundering charges presents a complex legal challenge, with intricate laws and potentially significant consequences that require careful navigation.

Securing an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to fighting these charges effectively and is the best course to ensure your case reaches a favorable outcome.

As a former New York City Prosecutor, attorney Mehdi Essmidi knows how the prosecution thinks and operates. He uses this knowledge to build robust defenses that challenge the evidence against you while protecting your rights at every turn. Contact The Law Offices of Mehdi Essmidi P.L.L.C. for a free consultation.

Understanding Money Laundering in New York

Money laundering involves disguising illegally obtained funds to make it seem as if they were obtained legally:

  • Concealing the origin of funds through various means, such as transferring funds across multiple accounts, acquiring assets, or evading taxes.
  • Conducting a financial transaction while knowing that the property is derived from an unlawful activity.

Many people associate money laundering crimes with high-stakes illegal activities such as drug trafficking or smuggling. However, it’s essential to understand that prosecutors often target what are perceived as white-collar crimes that are easier to prove.

They can use these charges to pressure defendants to extract information and build a larger case. The experience can be terrifying, which is why money laundering allegations should never be faced without criminal defense lawyers with experience in federal and New York law.

How Money Laundering Works

Money laundering typically involves three key stages:

Placement: This is where illicit money is introduced into the financial system. It typically consists of breaking up large amounts of funds into smaller sums.

Layering: The second stage is about creating a network of transactions to disguise the origin of the money. This is done by moving money through various financial transactions to make it look legal. These transactions may involve converting cash into traveler’s checks, stocks, bonds, letters of credit, or moving the money through different accounts at different banks in other countries.

Integration: The final stage is where laundered money is reintegrated into the legitimate economy. The money might be used to purchase legitimate assets or to fund other criminal activities. At this point, the money is reincorporated into the financial system and assimilated with all other assets.


Smurfing, also known as structuring, is a common money laundering technique that involves breaking down large transactions into several smaller ones. This method is often used to avoid triggering reporting thresholds set by financial institutions.

These smaller transactions are less likely to raise suspicion and allow the laundered money to blend with legitimate transactions. Even though each transaction is small, collectively, they amount to significant sums of money.

State Vs. Federal Money Laundering Charges

Money laundering charges can be brought at the state and federal levels, each with a distinct set of laws and penalties.

N.Y. Penal Law § 470 Money Laundering Charges

In New York, money laundering is covered under Penal Law § 470. This law defines money laundering as conducting a financial transaction with the proceeds of criminal conduct to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of those proceeds.

New York classifies money laundering offenses from the first to the fourth degree, with the severity depending on the total value of the financial transactions involved. The penalties increase with higher degrees of offenses, which are linked to the amount of money laundered:

  • 3rd Degree Money Laundering (over $50,000): A Class D felony, up to 7 years in prison.
  • 2nd Degree Money Laundering (over $100,000): A Class C felony, up to 15 years in prison.
  • 1st Degree Money Laundering (over $1 million): A Class B felony, up to 25 years in prison.

18 USC §1956 Federal Money Laundering Charges

The United States Code prohibits conducting a financial transaction involving proceeds from unlawful activity with the intent to promote that activity, conceal or disguise the nature of the proceeds, or avoid a transaction reporting requirement under state or federal law.

The maximum penalty for violating 18 U.S.C. § 1956 includes a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instruments or funds involved, whichever is greater, as well as imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.​

Common Money Laundering Defenses

Every case is unique, but several common defenses may be used in money laundering cases. These include lack of intent to commit a crime, lack of knowledge that the money was derived from illegal activity, or that the transactions were conducted for legitimate purposes.

Lack of Intent

This argument revolves around the idea that the defendant did not intend to commit the crime of money laundering. The lack of intent defense strategy argues that the defendant did not intend to disguise illicit origins. This could be due to various reasons, such as being misled about the source of the funds, misunderstanding the nature of the transaction, or being coerced.

To effectively use this strategy, the defense attorney must provide evidence supporting the claim of lack of intent.

Lack of Knowledge

This defense strategy hinges on the assertion that the defendant was unaware that the funds involved were derived from criminal activity. In a money laundering case, the prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly conducted financial transactions with money obtained from illegal activities. If the defendant can successfully argue that they were unaware of the illicit origins of the funds, they may be able to counter the charges.

Lack of Evidence

This defense strategy is based on the premise that the prosecution has not provided sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of money laundering. If the prosecution cannot provide convincing evidence to support these claims, the defense can argue that there is a lack of evidence to convict the defendant of money laundering.

Legitimate Sources of Income

In money laundering cases, one of the defenses that can be used is presenting proof of legitimate sources of income. This defense strategy is based on the premise that the defendant can provide evidence of earning money from legal sources. This defense can be particularly effective if the defendant can demonstrate a consistent history of legitimate income that matches the amount of money involved in the transactions.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

When facing serious charges that can impact your freedom and criminal record, you need an experienced money laundering defense attorney who will fight for your rights and work to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Attorney Mehdi Essmidi has a proven track record of successfully defending clients against serious criminal charges, including money laundering. Don’t face these charges alone. Contact the Law Offices of Mehdi Essmidi P.L.L.C today to schedule a confidential consultation.