California Money Laundering Law & Defense
California Penal Code 186.10 & 14166
The law on the crime of money laundering is found at California penal code section 186.10 & 14166.
Definition of Money Laundering
Money laundering is defined as the concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money by cleaning or laundering the money through an otherwise legitimate source, such as a bank, casino, or business.
The law of PC 186.10 & 14166
In order for the district attorney to prove that the defendant committed the crime of money laundering he or she will need to prove that the defendant:
- conducted a financial transaction involving money, or a monetary instrument, through a financial institution, and
- when the defendant conducted the financial transaction, he or she did so with the intent to facilitate an underlying criminal activity.
There are several variations of money laundering charges; for example, systematic money laundering charges, which carry harsher penalties, requires the district attorney to prove that more than one transaction of money laundering took place over a specific time period, such as two transaction of at least $5000 in a week, or two transaction of at least $25,000 in a month.
Note: For federal RICO charges the defendants must also be found to have committed money laundering for the purpose of, or on the behalf of, an organized criminal group.
A transaction, for purposes of PC 186.10 or 14166, may include a deposit, withdrawal, payment, exchange, loan, pledge, electronic wage, etc.
Criminal activity, for purposes of PC 186.10, is a crime punishable under the laws of California, or an activity, which if conducted in California would constitute a crime in California.
Punishment & Sentence for Money Laundering
The crime of money laundering is charged under PC 186.10 or PC 14166. PC 186.10 is classified as a felony and if found guilty the defendant could face up to three (3) years in prison. PC 14166 is classified as a wobbler, which means it may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. When PC 14166 is charged as a felony the defendant could face up to three (3) years in prison. When PC 14166 is charged as a misdemeanor the defendant could face up to one (1) year in the county jail.
Criminal Enhancements for Money Laundering
In addition to any jail or prison sentence associated with a money laundering conviction there are several enhancements that may be added when the value of the money laundering is very high, such as over $100,000.00 (more on enhancements below).
PC 186.10(c)(1)(A) Enhancement: For money laundering charges where the value of the money laundered is $50,000 - $100,000, the DA will add a PC 186.10(c)(1)(A) enhancement, which adds one (1) year additional jail or prison punishment.
PC 186.10(c)(1)(B) Enhancement: For money laundering charges where the value of the money laundered is $150,000 - $1,000,000, the DA will add a PC 186.10(c)(1)(B) enhancement, which adds two (2) years additional jail or prison punishment.
PC 186.10(c)(1)(C) Enhancement: For money laundering charges where the value of the money laundered is $1,000,000 - $2,000,000, the DA will add a PC 186.10(c)(1)(C) enhancement, which adds three (3) years additional jail or prison punishment.
PC 186.10(c)(1)(D) Enhancement: For money laundering charges where the value of the money laundered is above $2,500,000, the DA will add a PC 186.10(c)(1)(D) enhancement, which adds four (4) years additional jail or prison punishment.
PC 186.11(a)(2) Enhancement: For money laundering charges where the loss to a victim is over $500,000, the DA will add a PC 186.11(a)(2) enhancement, which add five (5) years additional jail or prison punishment.
PC 186.11(a)(3) Enhancement: For money laundering charges where the loss to a victim is over $100,000, the DA will add a PC 186.11(a)(3) enhancement, which add up to two (2) years additional jail or prison punishment.
Note: federal RICO law violations for money laundering may add up to twenty (20) years of prison.
Note II: There is no misdemeanor money laundering charge under PC 186.10, but there is a misdemeanor charge under PC 14166. In some cases of PC 186.10 it might be possible to have the felony charge changed to PC 14166 misdemeanor charges. Whether or not any dismissal of the case or a reduction of the criminal charges depends largely on the facts of the case and the defedant's criminal history.
Additional Punishment for PC 186.10 & 14166
In addition to any actual jail or prison time that the defendant may be facing, if found guilty of money laundering charges under PC 186.10 or 14166, the defendant may also face any or all of the following punishment: increased penalties for future convictions, harsh probation or parole terms, restitution to victims, fines, loss of professional license, loss of immigration status for non US citizens, mandatory work release, house arrest, electronic monitoring, civil lawsuits, and more.
PC 186.10 and 14166 are not considered serious or violent felonies under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law. Any jail or prison term may receive up to fifty percent (50%) credit for good time behavior while the defendant is in jail or prison. The defendant may also be eligible for early release on parole pursuant to newly enacted Prop 57.
Note: The crime of money laundering is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which means it is a crime that is considered to be morally wrong. Crimes of moral turpitude carry special punishments with immigrants and professionals (i.e. doctors, dentist, lawyers, Nurses, etc.).
Defenses to PC 186.10 & 14166
Perhaps the most common defense to PC 186.10 charges is insufficient evidence to prove the crime of money laundering. In other words, if the district attorney can not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the one who made a financial transaction or that the money is derived from criminal activity then the defendant is entitled to a finding of not guilty, or to have his or her case dismissed.
Other common defenses include: statute of limitations, misjoinder of defendants, police misconduct that leads to the suppression of evidence such as a coerced confession, or the seizing of assets without probable cause, double jeopardy, mistake of fact, duress, or negotiated plea bargain for less time (sentence bargaining), or a negotiated plea for lesser criminal charge (charge bargaining).
If you have been charged with a violation of PC 186.10 or 14166, money laundering, including any enhancement to a money laundering charge, contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys dedicate 100% of their practice to criminal defense and our lawyers are available 24/7 to answer all of your questions. Call today!
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Related Crimes to Money Laundering
- PC 14166 Money Laundering
- PC 186.10 Money Laundering
- PC 664/186 Attempt to Commit Money Laundering
- PC 186.10(a) Enhancement to Money Laundering
- PC 186.11 Aggravated Money Laundering
- PC 664/186.10 Attempted Money Laundering
- PC 496(A) Receipt of Stolen Property