Washington DC Federal Money Laundering Lawyer

Despite the somewhat whimsical name, money laundering is an extremely serious crime. It is an offense of relatively recent origin frequently used to catch criminals involved in illegal activities involving drugs, weapons, and organized crime as well as white collar offenses such as fraud and tax evasion.

Federal money laundering laws are often prosecuted quite vigorously by government attorneys who are extremely familiar with the ins and outs of federal statutes. If you are facing money laundering charges, you deserve to have an experienced Washington DC federal money laundering lawyer on your side fighting to protect your rights. Even if you have not been formally charged, it is wise to seek advice from a skilled federal criminal defense lawyer who can explain the implications and your options for a positive outcome.

Money Laundering May Be Prosecuted Under Numerous Federal Statutes

Money laundering is a term used to refer to activities undertaken to make money derived from illegal sources appear as though it comes from a legitimate source. In other words, the money associated with crime and therefore “dirty” is passed through a process to make it appear “clean.”

One of the first attempts to catch money laundering came in 1970 with the Bank Secrecy Act, but the money laundering process did not truly become illegal until the passage of the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, now codified at 18 U.S.C. §§1956 and 1957. Since that time, Congress further expanded money laundering provisions through additional laws such as the Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994 and the Patriot Act of 2001. For instance, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 broadened the definition of the types of institutions required to report large transactions in currency in an effort to spot money laundering occurring through car dealerships and other businesses.

The Offense Under 18 U.S.C. §1956

The provisions of 18 U.S.C. §1956 describe three types of transactions under the heading of “laundering of monetary instruments”– domestic money laundering, international money laundering, and undercover money laundering. To convict someone of domestic money laundering under 18 U.S.C. §1956(a)(1), the government must show that:

  • An individual conducted or attempted to conduct a financial transaction
  • The individual knew that the property involved in the transaction came from illegal activity
  • The property in fact did derive from a specific illegal activity
  • The individual operated with the intent to either promote illegal activity, to engage in tax evasion, to conceal the source or ownership of the proceeds of illegal activity, or to avoid having the transaction reported

Although the prosecutor must prove that the individual charged knew that the property derived from the proceeds of illegal conduct, the prosecutor does not need to show that the individual was aware of the specific offense involved but only that the individual knew the money originated from illegal conduct. Moreover, the conduct may have been a violation or either state, federal or foreign law.

Penalties for Money Laundering

The potential penalties for money laundering under 18 U.S.C. §1956 are quite severe. A fine of up to $500,000 may be imposed. In addition, a convicted individual faces up to 20 years in prison.

The offense of “engaging in monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity,” which is defined in 18 U.S.C. §1957, carries a less severe potential sentence of ten years in prison. This offense occurs when someone engages in a transaction involving property derived from specified criminal activity, but the government does not need to prove any awareness of the illegal source of the funds.

Work with a Washington DC Federal Money Laundering Attorney Today

The penalties for federal money laundering are as harsh as those levied for extremely violent criminal offenses. However, there are several arguments that may be raised in defense against money laundering charges.

The government must prove an individual acted with a particular state of mind and was aware of the illegal nature of the property involved. So, it is wise to collect and prepare evidence involving intent as soon as practicable. To learn how an experienced Washington, DC federal money laundering lawyer could assist with this and other defense strategies, call for a consultation.