What are money laundering and embezzlement?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Financial crimes are often very complex and intricate matters. They all share financial gain as the common motive. Because of the nature of these crimes, they’re often associated with considerable evidence that can make these cases difficult as they move through the criminal justice system.

Money laundering and embezzlement are two specific crimes that fall under this umbrella. Each of these has unique legal considerations. While money laundering involves disguising illegally obtained funds as legitimate, embezzlement refers to the misappropriation of funds entrusted to someone’s care.

Understanding money laundering

Money laundering typically involves three stages: placement, layering and integration. Placement is where illegally obtained money is introduced into the financial system. Layering involves complex transactions to disguise the source of the funds. Integration is the final stage, where the laundered money is reintegrated into the economy as legitimate.

A defense against money laundering charges may involve proving the legitimacy of the source of funds. Demonstrating a lack of knowledge about the illicit nature of the funds is another common approach. Challenging the prosecution’s evidence regarding the alleged laundering activities may create reasonable doubt.


Embezzlement occurs when someone unlawfully takes money or property they were trusted to manage or hold. It differs from theft because it involves a violation of trust. It often occurs in employment or fiduciary relationships. Unlike money laundering, embezzlement doesn’t require the money to be of illegal origin. Instead, it focuses on the breach of trust.

Defending against embezzlement charges frequently involves proving the absence of fraudulent intent. This can include showing that the defendant believed they had a right to the property or funds in question. Documentation and records are often crucial in these cases and help to establish the defendant’s intentions and actions.

These are both serious charges, so defendants should carefully consider their defense options.