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What is Structuring and Why is it Unlawful?


In an effort to deter certain types of white collar crime, namely tax evasion and money laundering, the federal government has placed a number of restrictions on financial institutions. For instance, under federal law, banks must report any deposits over $10,000 if they are made in cash. Attempting to avoid detection by making multiple deposits of less than $10,000 is known as structuring and is unlawful.

Being falsely accused of this offense can have devastating consequences, as even a first time violation is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, although in some cases, sentences can be increased to ten years, making it especially important for Florida residents who have been accused of structuring, to retain an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help them begin working on a defense.

What is Structuring? 

Structuring laws were put into place to help prevent those who violate the law from making illegally obtained funds appear as though they come from legitimate sources, as they require financial institutions to report all cash deposits of more than $10,000. Attempting to avoid notice for making large deposits by making a number of deposits of less than this amount is known as structuring and is unlawful under federal law. Unfortunately, because they are written so broadly, these laws can also act as traps for the unwary, as many of those who innocently make multiple deposits of just under $10,000 in cash come under scrutiny for potentially violating federal law.

Because the penalties for violating this law are so serious, lawmakers require prosecutors to meet a strict burden of proof to obtain a conviction. For instance, prosecutors must be able to prove that:

  • The defendant had knowledge of the currency transaction reporting requirements;
  • The defendant structured, attempted to structure, or assisted in structuring a currency transaction;
  • The purpose of the transaction was to evade reporting requirements;
  • The defendant knew that structuring was unlawful; and
  • The structured transaction involved at least one financial institution.

Essentially, the government must demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a defendant’s deposits were knowingly structured. These elements play an important role in ensuring that individuals and corporations who deposit cash in varying amounts and on a number of occasions for legitimate reasons, are not prosecuted for intentional structuring.

What are the Penalties for a Structuring Conviction? 

In its simplest form, a structuring conviction comes with a maximum prison sentence of five years, as well as the forfeiture of all allegedly ill-gotten gains. However, these penalties can be enhanced in certain cases, namely when the amount of money deposited over a twelve month period exceeds $100,000. This is known as aggravated structuring and it comes with the much more severe sentence of ten years imprisonment.

Contact a White Collar Crime Lawyer for Assistance  

Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys in Miami will analyze your case and stand up for you and your legal rights. Please call us at 305-670-9919 or send an online message to request a free consultation today.


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Miami Criminal Attorneys

9130 South Dadeland Blvd
Miami, Florida 33156

Telephone: 305-670-9919
Fax: 305-670-9299

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