Money Laundering in New York: White Collar Criminal Defense and Potential Fines (New York Penal Law 470.25)

As a former Manhattan prosecutor and a founding white collar criminal defense lawyer at Saland Law PC, I can confidently assert that District Attorney’s in NYC vigorously pursue all crimes. However, the reality of the financial crisis lends credence to the argument that white collar crimes, such as Money Laundering, are appealing targets of law enforcement due to the potential asset forfeiture or fines that can be levied against defendants. In the realm of Money Laundering, pursuant to NY Penal Law Sections 470.05, 470.10, 470.15 or 470.20, prosecutors have the ability, based on statutes, to “disgorge” those convicted of this crime. In fact, pursuant to NY Penal Law Section 470.25, individuals convicted of Money Laundering can be fined in a significant amount in addition to other penalties including terms of state prison.

According to New York Penal Law Section 470.25(1) a person convicted of Money Laundering under New York Penal Law Sections 470.05, 470.10, 470.15 or 470.20, may be sentenced to pay a fine up to “two times the monetary instruments which are the proceeds of specified criminal conduct.” It is the court that makes the finding or determination as to the value of the monetary instrument(s).

In determining how much a fine should be, the courts may examine many factors including: (1) the seriousness of the conduct, (2) whether the amount of the fine is disproportionate to the conduct in which the defendant is engaged, (3) the crime’s impact on the victims, and (4) the economic circumstances of the convicted person including the effect of the imposition of such a fine on the convicted person’s family.

It is important to note that according to NY Penal Law Section 470.25(2), that a fine levied against an individual based on NY Penal Law Section 470.25(1), “shall preclude the imposition of any other order or judgment of forfeiture or fine based on the same criminal conduct.”

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