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Money Laundering Law & Defense

PC 186.10(a) Crimes

The law on the crime of money laundering is found at California penal code section 186.10 & 14166.

Money laundering Defined: 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.

PC 186.10 & 14166 Law

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 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

Systematic Money Laundering: There are several varieties 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, etc.


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.

transaction, for purposes of PC 186.10 or 14166, may include a deposit, withdrawal, payment, exchange, loan, pledge, electronic wage, etc., and criminal activity is a crime punishable under the laws of California.


PC 186.10: The crime of money laundering charged under PC 186.10 is classified as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If found guilty of felony PC 186.10 the defendant could face up to three (3) years in jail. If found guilty of misdemeanor PC 186.10 the defendant could face up to one (12) year in jail.


PC 14166: The crime of money laundering charged under PC 14166 is classified 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.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are avaialble in money laundering cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not a person convicted of PC 186.10 or PC 14166 will be granted a probation sentence dependd on many factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the circumstances and facts of the case. Generally, a probation sentence will carry some type of manual labor, such as work release, as a condition of probation.


PC 1170(h) Sentence: If the defendant is not granted a probation sentence after a conviction for money laundering then the defendant may request that his or her jail sentence be split (served partially in jail and partially out of jail on work release or house arrest), or suspended (not served unless the defendant violate a condition of his out of custody sentence). 

Criminal Enhancements: In addition to any jail sentence associated with a money laundering conviction there are several penalty enhancements that may be added when the value of the money laundering is very high, such as over $100,000.00. The following represents money laundering enhancements:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Note: federal RICO law violations for money laundering may add up to twenty (20) years of prison.

Three Strikes Law: PC 186.10 and 14166 are not strike offenses under California's Three Strikes Law.

Note: The crime of money laundering is considered a crime involving moral turpitude, which means it is a crime that is considered to be morally wrong or involve deceit. Crimes involving moral turpitude carry collateral punishments with immigrants and professionals (i.e. doctors, dentist, lawyers, Nurses). Upon a conviction for money laundering on US citizens may be deported or denied reentry into the United States and licensed professionals may be disciplined by their respective Bar, Board, or Commission concerning their licenses

In addition to any actual jail 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 punishments: increased penalties for future convictions, restitution to victims, fines, mandatory work release, house arrest, electronic monitoring, civil lawsuits, and more.



Common defenses to PC 186.10 and 14166 criminal charges include: statute of limitations, 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 every day to answer all of your questions. Call today!


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