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Federal Domestic Money Laundering Charges

Money laundering is unlawful under both state and federal law, and while charges under either law should be taken seriously, federal charges are known for having especially harsh consequences. For this reason, it is critical that those who are being investigated for or have already been accused of money laundering in federal court, retain an experienced white collar crime attorney who may be able to get the charges moved to state court or dismissed altogether.

How is Money Laundering Defined Under Federal Law?

Federal law divides money laundering into three different categories:

  • Domestic money laundering transactions;
  • International money laundering transactions; and
  • Undercover money laundering transactions.

Although all of these offenses can be charged in federal court, the first, domestic money laundering, is the most common.

What is Domestic Money Laundering?

Under federal law, a person has committed domestic money laundering if he or she conducted or tried to conduct a financial transaction, with knowledge that the property in question was made up of the proceeds from an unlawful activity. It’s also important to note that not only is the defendant required to sincerely believe that the property was obtained illegally, but that the funds were in fact derived from a specific unlawful activity, usually involving one of the following:

  • Kidnapping;
  • Gambling;
  • Robbery;
  • Arson;
  • Counterfeiting;
  • Embezzlement from pension and welfare funds;
  • Bribery;
  • Sex trafficking;
  • Identity theft;
  • Mail and wire fraud;
  • Extortion, especially involving credit transactions;
  • Dealing in obscene matter; or
  • Dealing in a controlled substance.

However, prosecutors are not required to prove that the defendant was aware of the exact crime from where the proceeds were obtained. Instead, proving that a defendant knew only that the property was illegally obtained somehow is enough to obtain a conviction. Finally, a person can only be convicted of money laundering in federal court if there is evidence that the accused initiated or concluded a financial transaction that affects interstate or foreign commerce, which is specifically defined as involving:

  • The movement of funds;
  • The use of a monetary instrument;
  • The transfer of title to real property; or
  • The use of a bank.

In most cases, each separate financial transaction undertaken by a defendant can be charged separately as an individual count.

Proving Intent

One of the most important elements in any prosecution involving charges of domestic money laundering is intent, as a person cannot be convicted of this offense unless he or she acted with one of the following specific intents when conducting the financial transaction:

  • The intent to promote an unlawful activity;
  • The intent to engage in tax fraud or tax evasion;
  • The intent to conceal the nature or source of the proceeds of an unlawful activity; or
  • The intent to avoid a transaction reporting requirement.

Those who are convicted of domestic money laundering face serious penalties, including fines of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property in question, whichever is greater, and up to 20 years imprisonment.

Obtain Legal Advice Today

To speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney about your own pending money laundering charges, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys in Miami at (305) 670-9919 or contact our legal team online.


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