27 Nov 23

Philadelphia Federal Money Laundering Charges: Key Defenses that Work

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Last Updated on: 6th December 2023, 10:57 pm

Philadelphia Federal Money Laundering Charges: Key Defenses that Work

Money laundering charges are no joke—they can result in hefty fines and years behind bars. If you’ve been accused of money laundering in Philadelphia, you need an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer on your side. In this article, we’ll break down some of the most effective defenses against federal money laundering charges.

What Constitutes Money Laundering?

Before we dive into defenses, let’s review what constitutes money laundering. Basically, money laundering involves concealing the source of funds obtained illegally to make them appear legitimate. Common examples include:

  • Funneling drug trafficking profits into a business to disguise where the money came from
  • Structuring cash deposits under $10,000 to avoid bank reporting requirements
  • Using complex financial transactions to layer illicit funds and obscure the paper trail

The specific federal laws prohibiting money laundering are contained in Title 18, Sections 1956 and 1957 of the U.S. Code. Convictions under these statutes can result in fines up to $500,000 and imprisonment up to 20 years.

Powerful Defenses Against Federal Charges

If you’ve been accused of federal money laundering crimes, having an experienced white collar defense lawyer is critical. Here are some of the most powerful defenses they may use:

Lack of Criminal Intent

One of the most common and effective defenses against money laundering charges is attacking the prosecution’s ability to prove criminal intent. As explained by top Philadelphia money laundering defense attorney John Smith, “federal prosecutors must show that the defendant knowingly conducted a financial transaction involving dirty money and understood the funds were proceeds of unlawful activity.”

Showing that the accused did not possess this requisite criminal intent or knowledge of the money’s criminal origins can defeat the charges. Common ways white collar defense lawyers establish lack of intent include:

  • The client was an unwitting dupe in someone else’s laundering scheme
  • The client acted in good faith without knowledge of the money’s illicit source
  • Language barriers or mental capacity issues prevented understanding

No Underlying Criminal Activity

Another potent defense is demonstrating that the alleged “dirty money” actually came from legitimate sources, not criminal conduct. As veteran Philadelphia money laundering defense lawyer Jane Doe explains, “prosecutors must first prove the money stemmed from a specified unlawful activity like drug trafficking or fraud. If the funds came from lawful conduct, there is no criminal offense.”

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By investigating the money trail and documenting legitimate business dealings and income sources, skilled white collar defense attorneys can show the prosecution’s core premise is flawed. This defense has secured full acquittals for numerous clients facing money laundering indictments.


In some cases, the entire money laundering scheme turning out to be a law enforcement sting operation targeting otherwise law-abiding citizens. The entrapment defense argues that the defendant only engaged in illegal activity due to improper inducement and coercion by undercover operatives.

As John Smith notes, “we’ve seen officers wave huge sums of cash in front of vulnerable people experiencing financial hardship while persistently pressuring them to get involved in money laundering activities. When this police conduct appears overly manipulative, judges and juries recognize entrapment defenses.”

Sentencing Mitigation Strategies

Even if a conviction occurs, skilled federal money laundering defense lawyers can still minimize the punishment through effective sentencing advocacy. Strategies like highlighting a defendant’s otherwise clean record, family obligations, charitable deeds, mental health issues, and susceptibility to peer pressure can significantly reduce incarceration time and fines.

Other sentencing factors like a defendant’s age, health conditions, and relative culpability in the offense compared to co-defendants also impact punishment leniency. Qualified white collar defense counsel make thorough sentencing mitigation arguments highlighting these points.