Money Laundering Laws, Charges, Statute of Limitations

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Money laundering refers to any organized network of activities intended to “convert” money obtained from illicit activities so that it appears to be money gotten from lawful sources. Money laundering is frequently the hallmark of organized crime syndicates. Criminal cartels make use of “front” businesses that appear lawful in order to construct a new “paper trail” that allows money obtained by crime to be used for general purchases. Money laundering charges often involve conspiracy, racketeering, and other federal crimes intended to thwart organized criminal activity.

Money laundering is a complex crime that involves a high number of complex financial transactions and financial outlets across the globe.

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Money laundering is the term for any process that “cleans” illegally obtained funds of their “dirty” criminal origins, allowing them to be used within the legal economy. And the practice is about as old as money itself. But how does it actually work? Delena D. Spann describes the ins and outs of money laundering.

Money Laundering Laws

Both states and the federal government have money laundering laws on the books. Federal money laundering laws are intended to criminalize the illicit activities of large-scale criminal conspiracies that might be involved in other crimes, such as counterfeiting, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.

Money laundering may be charged on its own by federal prosecutors, but it is often filed in conjunction with other financial-related crimes. Most often, the following types of charges are filed along with money laundering charges:

  • Bank fraud
  • Credit card fraud
  • Drug offenses
  • ID theft
  • Mortgage fraud
  • RICO
  • Securities fraud
  • Structuring
  • Tax evasion
  • Transaction reports

Money Laundering Crimes & Charges

Federal money laundering laws recognize a number of unlawful activities:

  • Knowingly representing the proceeds from any unlawful act as lawful and attempting to conduct any financial transaction with said proceeds, with the intent of promoting such unlawful activity, concealing the nature of the proceeds, or avoiding reporting requirements.
  • Transporting, transmitting, or transferring any monetary instruments or funds throughout the United States to promote unlawful activity, conceal the nature of criminal proceeds or avoid financial reporting requirements.
  • Making false representations about criminal proceeds in order to effect any of the outcomes above, including concealing the nature of criminal proceeds, avoiding reporting requirements, or promoting unlawful activities.

In effect, the laws provide for punishment for any individual who engages in any type of financial transaction, whether the transfer of property, use of a financial institution, or transport of any proceeds, if that individual knows or should know that the proceeds arise from any illegal activity.

To understand how money laundering works in the real world, it is helpful to describe a real world scenario. Drug traffickers often deal in money laundering because they obviously cannot walk into a bank and deposit large amounts of cash that are the proceeds of criminal conduct.

To disguise the source of the money, the drug trafficker may purchase gift cards with the cash from trafficking drugs. The gift cards are used to buy jewelry, electronics and other items that are easy to sell. The drug trafficker then sells the items to regular buyers in legal transactions and puts those proceeds into a bank account of a shell company.

Next, he might use the funds in that bank account to buy real estate or other real property in another country. The drug dealer then uses that property to secure a loan and then default on it. The property might get repossessed, but the money that he was loaned will be put into another bank account where the funds are used for personal use.

By continuing to add layers of legal transactions, the drug trafficker can make it difficult for auditors to trace the source of the money. The general idea is to split up the funds and keep them moving through more transactions.

This is a simple example, but a good money launderer can make it become very complex and difficult to track. When many transactions are made with several different currencies, with accounts in banks across the world, purchases of legal goods and property, as well as purchase of financial instruments such as life insurance and loans, it is easy to see how money laundering can be used to disguise illegal funds. Of course, the federal government has vast resources and highly trained forensic accountants and fraud examiners to unwind these complex transactions to secure federal money laundering convictions every year.

Money Laundering Punishment

Penalties for money laundering differ based on the specifics of the crime. Speaking generally, large fines and jail time are possible. Fines can range up to $500,000 or be based upon the value of the property involved in a money laundering transaction. Imprisonment for general money laundering crimes can range up to twenty years, as well as a combination of fines and prison time. This is per count. It is important to understand this last point: The aforementioned penalties can be brought for every count of money laundering.

So, if you did an act of money laundering at the end of every month for 24 months, you in theory could be charged by the federal government with 24 counts of money laundering. That could net a maximum of 480 years in prison and $12 million in fines.

Money Laundering Sentencing Guidelines

The basic outlines of money laundering sentencing guidelines are provided for in the United States Code. The maximum sentences possible are based upon the specific type of violation and may be influenced by the amount of money involved in an illicit transaction.

Generally speaking, the maximum sentences provided for in any act of federal money laundering include a sentence of up to twenty years in prison and a fine. The maximum fine is generally set at $500,000. However, the fine may be adjusted to be as much as twice the value of the currency or other monetary instruments represented in the illicit activity.

Money Laundering Statute of Limitations

According to the strictures of federal law, no one can be prosecuted, be brought to trial or be subject to legal penalty for any offense that is not capital unless information is instituted or the person has been indicted within five years of committing the offense. (See 18 USC 3282)

Money Laundering Elements

When reviewing a money laundering case and trying to establish a defense, it is vital to look at the money that is involved, as well as where it is. Tracing back all purchase or deposit information for the bank account also is vital to build a strong defense.

Next, it is important to establish where the money originated. This involves a determination if there is another possible explanation that does not involve illegal sources, and whether there are any financial records that support this alternative explanation. It also is important to determine if it is possible that there is a legal source for the money, and whether it can be explained to a potential jury.

Looking at these basic case elements is intended to determine where reasonable doubt may be raised. In some cases, the client may be able to show that there was actually a legal source for the money in question. This could lead to more witnesses or to other possible sources of the money. Sometimes the defense attorney might be able to show that the money was not actually received illegally.

Money Laundering Techniques

Money launderers use a variety of techniques to make their illegal money clean and untraceable. The first and most common is structuring. This is the act of altering financial transactions to avoid mandatory financial reporting requirements. In the US, any cash deposit or withdrawal that is above $10,000 on a single business day must be noted on a currency transaction report or CTR. So, if a money launderer has $250,000 that he needs to get into the banking system, he cannot deposit it all at once without having to provide information on a CTR about where that money came from. So, what he may do is to have several people go to several banks and make deposits into different accounts for amounts less than $10,000. He cannot have 25 different deposits of $10,000 made into the same account on the same day; they must be made on different days, or on the same day into different accounts.

The people who make these deposits and withdrawals are referred to as runners or smurfs. Smurfing is the act of utilizing runners to make several financial transactions to avoid the federal currency reporting requirements. However, you can still engage in structuring without using smurfs. For instance, if you sell a car and take $15,000 to the bank to deposit. You can fill out the deposit slip for $15,000 but then he may just deposit $9000 and pocket the $6000 remaining. Even if he does not ever deposit that last $5000, he did alter the original deposit and is guilty of the crime of structuring.

Money Laundering Defenses

To build a criminal defense for money laundering charges against you, your criminal defense attorney will conduct a complete investigation to learn all of the relevant facts. The attorney will uncover any evidence that is useful for the defense, and will also learn about any evidence that could damage the defense.

It is always important for the defense attorney to know what evidence the federal government has to prove their case. The attorney will locate all of the possible witnesses and will identify any tangible evidence, such as financial documents. Most monetary transactions today occur online or on the Internet. The transactions were usually done online so the records are in electronic format. The defense will review all of these financial records, which are vital in money laundering cases.

In order for the prosecution to prove money laundering, the state has to show that the accused was expecting to receive funds back. Just receiving proceeds from possible illegal activity may not be money laundering. It is very important that the prosecution proves intent. Remember, spending money is not engaging in money laundering. However, investing the proceeds of criminal activity in a legal business so that the business is thriving without having any real, legal capital is money laundering. Also note that money laundering federal charges often as used by the US government as another charge on top of narcotics possession and trafficking charges. If you are charged in a narcotics case, federal money laundering charges may be used as a bargaining chip in a potential plea deal.

Your criminal defense attorney may use some or all of the following defenses to fight money laundering charges. Remember that money laundering is a crime that involves intent; if the prosecution cannot prove intent, it cannot convict you:

  • Lack of intent to commit crime: The vast majority of crimes require you to have had intent to commit the crime in question. Regarding money laundering, those who are employed as bankers, accountants and others who deal with large sums of money on the job frequently are charged with money laundering and they did not even know they had committed a crime. If you are able to prove that you did not know that the money you had was illegal, then it would be impossible for you to have had the intent to commit the crime of money laundering.
  • Duress: This can occur when the person believes he or she will be in danger if they decline to participate in a crime. In money laundering criminals may force the banker or accountant to engage in money laundering. They may threaten to do harm to their loved ones, for example.
  • Not enough evidence: Any criminal charge can be dismissed if there is not enough evidence to prosecute. In a money laundering charge, the intent to prevent illegal funds from being traced to the source is needed for a criminal conviction. A conviction also requires proof that the money that was laundered came from a certain illegal activity. If one of these two things is not there, it is possible that the case will be dismissed due to lack of evidence.

In many money laundering cases, the amount of money that was laundered is a major point of contention. It is important to understand this because the federal government might allege that they can prove that a certain sum of money was laundered. If the money does not show up in a bank account, the US government may use a forensic accountant to find the money.

If the forensic accountant expert states that they have extrapolated from a certain transaction that there was the same amount of money, that is where a good criminal defense attorney can attack the assumptions of the forensic accountant. If the lawyer can show that these assumptions are flawed, then they can try to reduce the amount of the illegal gain. This can have a substantial effect on the outcome of the case. If the defense can create reasonable doubt that, rather than several million dollars being laundered, it was only $50,000, this will have a major impact on the final ruling.

Importance of Vigilance for Business Owners

One of the problems of money laundering is that it can affect business owners who are honest and engage in legal business. It is true that the prosecutor has to show that you were aware of funds being illegal at the time of receipt to be convicted of money laundering and related crimes. But there are cases on the books where legitimate businesses were used for money laundering and even though the business owners did not know it, they really should have known. This means that small businesses need to use vigilance in understanding who their customers are and that business transactions make financial sense.

For example, if a deli in Boston were to come to a Scuba outfitter and order 1000 full Scuba outfits, including tanks, regulators and suits, this would look strange. It is true that this is a lot of business to turn down, but it is the type of transaction that could easily be a case of money laundering.

On top of that the person making payment signs six third party checks, or money is wired to your account from overseas accounts. Or the money is paid in a series of deposits that all were made in cash in branches across the country. While you need the sale for your business, if you accept it, you are an unwitting accomplice to the possible crime of money laundering.

Another common scheme involving businesses and workers is work at home ads that a foreign company needs people to process payments. They will pay 10% commissions for you to do these transactions. This is essentially a money mule scheme and you could possibly be charged with money laundering. Federal prosecutors have charged people before in these situations because the person should have known better. Remember that people who assist in money laundering, even unwittingly, are often treated the same as the real money launderers. So small businesses and workers should be wary of financial transactions that seem suspicious.

Money Laundering Cases

Federal money laundering cases generally take place within the context of a larger racketeering case governed by the RICO Act. Money laundering is typically only one aspect of a pattern of organized crime which may be nationwide or international. That being the case, money laundering is often the lesser offense in a pattern of crimes that can result in lifetime imprisonment. Here are some notable major cases:

  • The biggest U.S. money laundering case of all time commenced in mid-2013 as the U.S. filed an indictment against Liberty Reserve, based in Costa Rica, alleging that it was involved in laundering more than $6 billion for criminal cartels worldwide. Liberty Reserve was shut down as a result of the allegations. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Until recently, the largest and most comprehensive worldwide money laundering scheme of all time was believed to be that headed by South American drug lord Pablo Escobar. Colombian drug lord Escobar was felled through an undercover money laundering operation headed by the U.S. Department of Justice throughout the 1980s. (West Point)

Money Laundering Quick Links & References

Money Laundering Laws by State

The following section outlines the laws and statutes for money laundering by state:

AlabamaHawaiiMassachusettsNew MexicoSouth Dakota
AlaskaIdahoMichiganNew YorkTennessee
ArizonaIllinoisMinnesotaNorth CarolinaTexas
ArkansasIndianaMississippiNorth DakotaUtah
CaliforniaIowaMissouriOhioVermont
ColoradoKansasMontanaOklahomaVirginia
ConnecticutKentuckyNebraskaOregonWashington
DelawareLouisianaNevadaPennsylvaniaWest Virginia
FloridaMaineNew HampshireRhode IslandWisconsin
GeorgiaMarylandNew JerseySouth CarolinaWyoming

Alabama

Under the Alabama Monetary Transmission Act, Sections 8-7a-1 to 8-7a-27, Section 8-7A-20 Criminal Penalties:

  • $5,000 or more in one year. Class B felony. Two to 20 years imprisonment
  • Less than $5,000 in one year. Class C felony. One year and one day to 10 years imprisonment

Increased penalties for repeat offenders.

Alaska

Under 2011 Alaska Statutes, Title 06. BANKS AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS, Chapter 06.55. ALASKA UNIFORM MONEY SERVICES ACT, Sec. 06.55.606. Criminal penalties.

  • Class C felony. Up to five years imprisonment, fine of up to $50,000.
  • Class A misdemeanor. Up to one year in jail, fine of up to $10,000.

Classification of crime depends on value and repeat offenses.

Arizona

Under Arizona Revised Statutes, Criminal Code Section 13-2317 (Money Laundering), 1st Degree Money Laundering with a value above $100,000 in one year is a class 2 felony. Forfeiture of three times the amount involved, 12.5 years in prison for first offender.

Under Arizona Revised Statutes, Criminal Code Section 13-2317 (Money Laundering), 2nd Degree Money Laundering with a value above $100,000 in one year is a class 3 felony. Forfeiture of three times the amount involved, 8.75 years in prison for first offender.

Under Arizona Revised Statutes, Criminal Code Section 13-2317 (Money Laundering), 3rd Degree Money Laundering is a class 6 felony. Up to six years in prison and a fine of at least $2,000 or three times the amount involved, whichever is greater.

Arkansas

Under 2010 Arkansas Code, Title 5 – Criminal Offenses, Subtitle 4 – Offenses Against Property, Chapter 42 – Criminal Use of Property, Subchapter 2 – Arkansas Criminal Use of Property or Laundering Criminal Proceeds Act, Section 5-42-204 – Criminal use of property or laundering criminal proceeds is a class C felony:

  • Three to 10 years imprisonment
  • Damages
  • Civil proceedings

California

Under California Penal Code Sections 186.9-186.10:

  • Value up to $2,500. Up to one year in state prison or county jail.
  • Increased terms depending on value.
  • Fine of up to $250,000 or twice the value of the amount involved, whichever is greater.
  • Fine of up to $500,000 or five times the value of the amount involved, whichever is greater, for those with prior convictions.
  • Each transaction is a separate offense.

Colorado

Under:

  • Colorado Code Section18-5-309 (Money Laundering)
  • Colorado Code Section18-17-105, 18-17-104 Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA)

Two types of charges can be made:

  • Money laundering. Class 3 felony. Four to 12 years in prison, fine of $3,000 to $750,000.
  • Class 2 felony. Eight to 24 years in prison, fine of $5,000 to $1 million.

Connecticut

Under Connecticut General Statutes Title 53A. Penal Code Section 53a-276. Money laundering in the first degree is a class B felony. One to 40 years imprisonment, fine of up to $15,000.

Delaware

Under TITLE 11, Crimes and Criminal Procedure, Delaware Criminal Code, CHAPTER 5. SPECIFIC OFFENSES, Subchapter III. Offenses Involving Property, L. Concealment of Funds, Section 951 Money laundering is:

  • Class D felony. Up to eight years imprisonment
  • Class G felony. Up to two years imprisonment

Depending on the amounts involved and prior history of the offender.

Florida

Under Florida Statutes Section 896.101:

  • Value above $300 but lower than $20,000 in one year. 3rd degree felony. Up to five years imprisonment, fine of up to $5,000.
  • Value above $20,000 but lower than $100,000 in one year. 2nd degree felony. Up to 15 years imprisonment, fine of up to $10,000.
  • Value of $100,000 or more in one year. 1st degree felony. Up to 30 years imprisonment, fine of up to $10,000.

Georgia

Under [CHAPTER 708A], MONEY LAUNDERING, Section 708A-3 Money laundering; criminal penalty and under Georgia Banking and Finance Code Section Section 7-1-912 (Financial Institutions), money laundering is illegal. It is charged as a federal crime.

Hawaii

Under 2015 Hawaii Revised Statutes, TITLE 37. HAWAII PENAL CODE, 708A. Money Laundering, 708A-3 Money laundering; criminal penalty.

  • Value below $10,000. Class C felony. Fine of up to $16,000 or twice the value, whichever is greater, up to five years imprisonment.
  • Value is $10,000 or more. Class B felony. Fine of up to $25,000 or twice the value, whichever is greater, up to 10 years imprisonment.

Idaho

Under 2016 Idaho Statutes, Title 18 – CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS, Chapter 82 – MONEY LAUNDERING, Section 18-8201 – MONEY LAUNDERING AND ILLEGAL INVESTMENT – PENALTY – RESTITUTION, money laundering is a felony:

  • Fine of up to $250,000 or twice the value involved, whichever is greater
  • Up to 10 years imprisonment
  • Restitution

Illinois

Under Illinois Statutes Chapter 720. Criminal Offenses Section 5/29B-1. Money laundering:

  • Value is $10,000 or less. Class 3 felony. Two to five years imprisonment.
  • Value is higher than $10,000 up to $100,000. Class 2 felony. Three to seven years imprisonment.
  • Value is higher than $100,000 up to $500,000. Class 1 felony. Four to 15 years imprisonment.
  • Class X felony in some cases. 30 to 60 years imprisonment.
  • Value exceeds $500,000. Class 1 non-probationable felony. Four to 15 years imprisonment without parole.

Fines and restitution are also charged. Recidivists receive harsher penalties.

Indiana

Under Indiana Code Section 35-45-15-5:

  • Value below $50,000. Level 6 felony. Six months to 2.5 years imprisonment, fine of up to $10,000.
  • Value is $50,000 or more, with plan to use money for terrorism or for obtaining a weapon of mass destruction. Level 5 felony. One to six years imprisonment, fine of up to $10,000.
  • Value is $50,000 or more, with plan to use money for terrorism or for obtaining a weapon of mass destruction. Level 4 felony. Two to 12 years imprisonment, fine of up to $10,000.

Iowa

Under 2015 Iowa Code, TITLE XVI – CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE, SUBTITLE 1 – CRIME CONTROL AND CRIMINAL ACTS, CHAPTER 706B – MONEY LAUNDERING, Section 706B.2 – Money laundering penalty – civil remedies.:

  • Class C felony. Up to $10,000 fine or twice the value of the money involved, whichever is greater, and/or up to 10 years imprisonment.
  • Class D felony. Up to $7,500 fine or twice the value of the money involved, whichever is greater, and/or up to five years imprisonment.

Charges depend on the value.

Other penalties include:

  • Civil restitution. Three times the value of the money involved.

Kansas

Under 2006 Kansas Code – 65-4142. Unlawful acts involving proceeds derived from violations of the uniform controlled substances act; penalties:

  • Value below $5,000. Level 4 felony.
  • Value is $5,000 to less than $100,000. Level 3 felony.
  • Value is $100,000 to less than $500,000. Level 2 felony.
  • Value is $500,000 or more. Level 1 felony.

Kansas uses a grid system for sentencing. This means they consider the level of felony, the circumstances of the victim, the history of the offender, and more.

Kentucky

Under 2011 Kentucky Revised Statutes, Subtitle 11. Money Transmitters, 286.11.015 Permissible investments — Power of commissioner to define permissible investments — All permissible investments deemed to be held in trust for benefit of purchasers and holders, money laundering is a federal crime.

Louisiana

Under 2011 Louisiana Laws, Revised Statutes, TITLE 14 – Criminal law, RS 14:230 – Money laundering; transactions involving proceeds of criminal activity:

  • Value below $3,000. Up to six months imprisonment and/or fine of up to $1,000.
  • Value is at least $3,000 but less than $20,000. Up to two years imprisonment without hard labor, fine of up to $10,000.
  • Value is at least $20,000 but less than $100,000. Two to 20 years imprisonment with hard labor, fine of up to $20,000.
  • Value is $100,000 or more. Five to 99 years imprisonment with hard labor, fine of up to $50,000.

Maine

Under Anti-Money Laundering Programs – Title 31 Part 103, Sub-part I, a new provision has been added to the Patriot Act. This decrees money laundering a federal crime.

Maryland

Under Racketeering (RICO) 18 U.S.C. Section 1962, Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, 18 U.S. Code Section 1956, Maryland Corporations and Associations Section 1-405 (Organized Crime), Maryland Fraud Laws, Maryland Criminal Code Title 8 et. Seq, money laundering is considered a federal crime. However, the state can:

  • Impose maximum sentence of 35 years if connected to terrorism.
  • Demand restitution.
  • Start civil proceedings for forfeiture.
  • Demand a felony or misdemeanor charge.

Massachusetts

Under General Laws Part IV Title I Chapter 267A Section 2: Money laundering; penalties:

  • Up to six years imprisonment and/or fine of up to $250,000 or twice the value involved, whichever is greater, for 1st
  • Two to six years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000 or three times the value involved, whichever is greater, for subsequent offense.

Michigan

Under THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT), Act 328 of 1931, 750.411m Third-degree money laundering is a felony if it value is $10,000 or more. Up to five years imprisonment and/or fine of up to $50,000 or twice the value of involved, whichever is greatest. Threshold of $10,000 can be aggregated for a period of thirty days.

Minnesota

Under 2017 Minnesota Statutes CRIMES; EXPUNGEMENT; VICTIMS Chapter 609 Section 609.497 ENGAGING IN BUSINESS OF CONCEALING CRIMINAL PROCEEDS. Penalty, money laundering can lead to up to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1 million.

Mississippi

Under 2010 Mississippi Code, TITLE 97 – CRIMES, Chapter 23 – Offenses Affecting Trade, Business and Professions, 97-23-101 – Laundering of monetary instruments; offense; penalties; effect of federal conviction. A fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value involved, whichever is greater and/or up to 20 years imprisonment.

Missouri

Under 2015 Missouri Revised Statutes, TITLE XXXVIII CRIMES AND PUNISHMENT; PEACE OFFICERS AND PUBLIC DEFENDERS (556-600), Chapter 574 Offenses Against Public Order, Section 574.105 Beginning January 1, 2017 – Money laundering-penalty, money laundering is a class B felony. Five to 15 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the amount involved, whichever is greater.

Montana

Under Montana Code Annotated 2017, TITLE 45. CRIMES, CHAPTER 6. OFFENSES AGAINST PROPERTY, Part 3. Theft and Related Offenses, 45-6-341. Money laundering.

  • Value is $1,500 or less. Fine of up to $1,500 or up to six months in county jail.
  • Value above $1,500. Fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to 20 years in state prison.

Forfeiture is always demanded.

Nebraska

In Nebraska, money laundering is considered a federal crime. That said, they are in the process of passing a virtual currencies money laundering act.

Nevada

In Nevada, money laundering is a federal crime, particularly in order to deal with money laundering in casinos.

New Hampshire

Money laundering is a federal crime in New Hampshire. Under 2015 New Hampshire Revised Statutes, Title XXXVI – PAWNBROKERS AND MONEYLENDERS, Chapter 399-G – LICENSING OF MONEY TRANSMITTERS, Section 399-G:15 – Money Laundering Reports, the state has mandated how pawnbrokers and moneylenders should file reports.

New Jersey

Under 2009 New Jersey Code, TITLE 2C – THE NEW JERSEY CODE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, Section 2C:21, 2C:21-25 – Money laundering, illegal investment, crime

  • Value is $500,000 or more. 1st degree crime. 10 to 20 years imprisonment.
  • Value is $75,000 to $499,000. 2nd degree crime. Five to 10 years imprisonment.
  • Value is less than $75,000. 3rd degree crime. Three to five years’ imprisonment.
  • Preventing submission of legally mandated report from a financial institution. 3rd degree crime. Three to five years imprisonment.

New Mexico

Under 2014 New Mexico Statutes, Chapter 30 – Criminal Offenses, Section 51 Money Laundering, Section 30-51-4 Prohibited activity; criminal penalties; civil penalties:

  • Value is more than $100,000. 2nd degree felony. Up to nine years in prison, fine of up to $10,000.
  • Value is more than $50,000 up to $100,000. 3rd degree felony. Up to three years in prison, fine of up to $5,000.
  • Value is more than $10,000 up to $50,000. 4th degree felony. Up to 18 months in prison, fine of up to $5,000.
  • Value up to $10,000. Misdemeanor. Up to one year in jail, fine of up to $1,000.

A civil penalty of a fine three times the value involved is always charged.

New York

Under New York Penal Law Article 470, et seq.; Money laundering is:

  • 4th degree. Value is more than $5,000 up to $50,000. Class E felony; up to 4 years imprisonment.
  • 3rd degree. Value is more than $50,000 up to $100,000. Class D felony; up to 7 years imprisonment.
  • 2nd degree. Value is more than $100,000 up to $1 million. Class C felony; up to 15 years imprisonment.
  • 1st degree. Value is more than $1 million. Class B felony; up to 25 years imprisonment.

Fines of up to twice the value of the monetary transactions made to engage in money laundering may be imposed.

North Carolina

Under 2011 North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 75D Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. 75D-3. Definitions:

  • Incarceration
  • Fines
  • Forfeiture of assets
  • Restitution to the victims

Penalties vary by circumstances, including the criminal history of the offender and the underlying racketeering that took place.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, money laundering constitutes a federal crime.

Ohio

Under Ohio Revised Code Section 1315.55, charges for money laundering can vary. It is usually charged as a 3rd degree felony with 7,500 in fines or twice the value of the money involved, whichever is greater.

Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, money laundering is considered a federal crime.

Oregon

Under ORS 164.170 Laundering a monetary instrument, money laundering is a class B felony with up to 10 years imprisonment.

Pennsylvania

Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. section 5111. Money laundering is a 1st degree felony. Up to 20 years imprisonment, fine is twice the amount involved, up to $100,000.

Rhode Island

Under TITLE 11, Criminal Offenses, CHAPTER 11-9.1, Commercial Transactions, SECTION 11-9.1-15, Section 11-9.1-15. Laundering of monetary instruments.

  • Fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value involved, whichever is greater.
  • Up to 20 years imprisonment.
  • Civil penalty up to $10,000.

South Carolina

Under 2016 South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 35 – Securities, CHAPTER 11 – SOUTH CAROLINA ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT, Section 35-11-725. Criminal penalties, money laundering is class B felony, with up to 25 years imprisonment and fines. However, if the proceeds of the money laundering was less than $500 in a 30 day period, it is a class A misdemeanor, leading to a fine of up to $2,500.

South Dakota

In South Dakota, money laundering is a federal offense covered under the Patriot Act and the Bank Secrecy Act.

Tennessee

Under 2010 Tennessee Code, Title 39 – Criminal Offenses, Chapter 14 – Offenses Against Property, Part 9 – Money Laundering Offenses, 39-14-903 – Criminal penalties, money laundering is a class B felony, with eight to 25 years imprisonment and fine of up to $25,000.

Texas

Under Texas Money Laundering Statute (Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 34, Section 34.02), the severity of the penalty depends on how much money has been laundered. As such:

  • Value is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000. State jail felony. 180 days to two years in state jail.
  • Value is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000. 3rd degree felony. Two to 10 years imprisonment, fine of up to $10,000.
  • Value is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000. 2nd degree felony. Two to 20 years imprisonment, fine of up to $10,000.
  • Value is $200,000 or more. 1st degree felony. Five to 99 years imprisonment or life, fine of up to $10,000.

Utah

Under Utah Code, Title 76 Utah Criminal Code, Chapter 10, Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Welfare, and Morals, Part 19 Money Laundering and Currency Transaction Reporting Act, Section 1904 Money laundering — Penalty:

  • 2nd degree felony. One to 15 years imprisonment and fine of up to $10,000.
  • 3rd degree felony. Up to five years imprisonment and fine of up to $5,000.

The level of felony depends on the circumstances of the crime and the criminal background of the offender. If the value of the money laundered is above $5,000, it is always a 2nd degree felony.

Vermont

In Vermont, money laundering is a federal crime. Under 2013 Vermont Statutes, Title 08 Banking and Insurance, Chapter 79 MONEY SERVICES, Section 2535 Money laundering reports, the state does mandate reports to be provided by money services organizations.

Virginia

Under Title 18.2. Crimes and Offenses Generally – Chapter 6. Crimes Involving Fraud – Section 18.2-246.3. Money laundering; penalties:

  • Conducting money laundering transactions can lead to up to 40 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $500,000.
  • Converts cash into electronic funds or negotiable instruments is a class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 fine) for a 1st offense, or a class 6 felony (one to five years in prison) for subsequent offenses.

Washington

Under Chapter 9A.83 RCW, MONEY LAUNDERING, Complete Chapter, 9A.83.020, Money laundering, money laundering is a class B felony, leading to up to 10 years imprisonment. Additionally, civil penalties of twice the value of the amount involved and payment of attorney fees is also imposed.

West Virginia

Under WEST VIRGINIA CODE, CHAPTER 32A. LAND SALES; FALSE ADVERTISING; ISSUANCE AND SALE OF CHECKS, DRAFTS, MONEY ORDERS, ETC.,ARTICLE 2. CHECKS AND MONEY ORDER SALES, MONEY TRANSMISSION SERVICES, TRANSPORTATION AND CURRENCY EXCHANGE., Section 32A-2-1. Definitions, money laundering is a felony. Should the offender be a licensee of business, they may be fined up to $10,000 for each transaction. Furthermore, under Section 32A-2-19. Civil penalty, civil penalties may be imposed of up to $5,000 per violation and a further $5,000 for each day that the violation continues.

Wisconsin

Money laundering is a federal offense in Wisconsin.

Wyoming

Under 2010 Wyoming Statutes, Title 40 – Trade And Commerce, Chapter 22 – Wyoming Money Transmitters Act, CHAPTER 22 – WYOMING MONEY TRANSMITTERS ACT, 40-22-124. Civil penalties, a fine of up to $500 per violation per day, attorney fees, and state costs and expenses for the investigation and prosecution may be imposed.

Under 40-22-125. Criminal penalties:

  • Making false statements is a felony. At least three years imprisonment and/or a fine of at least $10,000.
  • Being unlicensed is a felony. At least three years imprisonment and/or a fine of at least $10,000.

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