Under 18 U.S.C. § 1956, it is illegal to engage or attempt to engage in a financial transaction that involves proceeds acquired as a result of unlawful activity knowing that the transaction is designed “to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds. . . .” The knowledge element only requires the government to prove that the defendant knew that the property came from some kind of criminal activity, it does not have to prove that the defendant knew the exact circumstances of the offense.
Even if all the elements of the above statute are not met, a defendant may still be charged under 18 U.S.C. 1957. To prove money laundering under Section 1957, the government must show: (1) that the defendant engaged in or attempted to engage in a monetary transaction; (2) in criminally derived property worth at least $10,000; (3) with knowledge that the property was derived from unlawful activity; and (4) the property is, in fact, derived from specified unlawful activity. The basic difference between the two statutes is that under Section 1957, the government need not show that the defendant knew the transaction was designed to conceal the proceeds. Rather, the government is only required to show that the defendant knew the proceeds were derived from unlawful activity. In other words, Section 1956 does not create a separate crime for simply spending or depositing tainted money, but Section 1957 does.
Money laundering is often in connection with a larger scheme or organized crime operation. The statute encompasses a variety of state, federal, and foreign law crimes including, but not limited to:
• Murder • Kidnapping
• Bribery • Drug Trafficking
• Illegal Wire Transfers • Business Fraud Schemes
• Robbery • Mortgage Fraud Schemes
• Embezzlement • Credit Card Fraud/Theft
• Extortion • Gambling
• Identity Fraud/Theft • Tax Evasion
• Conspiracy • Organized Crime
Even if the offense was not completed and the defendant simply attempted to commit it, the statute still applies. However, in that circumstance, the government must prove that the defendant’s activities constituted a “substantial step” towards completing the offense. Further, those who aid in the commission of the crime may be punished as well.
In recent years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) has been investigating money laundering crimes more aggressively, leading to a large amount of federal indictments across the country. There have also been stricter penalties associated with white collar crimes like money laundering. Even defendants charged with minor violations are facing incarceration. In fact, depending on the nature of the offense, a conviction for money laundering can be up to $500,000 in fines and 20 years imprisonment. There is also a possibility of forfeiture of any property traceable to the offense (ex. monies, real estate, jewelry, vehicles, etc.). This can be an intimidating and frightening process, not only for you, but your entire family. This why it is important to contact a federal money laundering attorney if you are being investigated or have been charged with a money laundering offense. We have experienced money laundering attorneys that are highly knowledgeable about this area of the law and can protect your rights. Our federal defense attorneys are aware of all the possible defenses to this type of crime, and we devote the time and research necessary to best represent you on your case.
We have federal criminal defense attorneys licensed in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and New York who have handled cases in a variety of federal court jurisdictions. We can advise you regarding the criminal process, what to expect, and all of your available options. If you or someone you know needs a money laundering attorney, contact our office for a free consultation or contact us online.