Money Laundering

Arizona Money Laundering Attorney

The federal crime of money laundering refers to the act of conducting financial transactions involving the proceeds of illegal activities with the intention to disguise the true source, ownership, or control of the funds. Money laundering involves converting “dirty” or illicitly obtained money into “clean” or legitimate-looking funds, making it difficult to trace the illicit origin of the funds.

Here are some key points to understand about the federal crime of money laundering:

  1. Purpose: Money laundering serves to conceal the illegal origins of funds, making them appear legitimate. It allows criminals to integrate illicit proceeds into the financial system, making it difficult for law enforcement to identify and trace the funds back to their criminal source.
  2. Elements: To establish a money laundering offense under federal law, prosecutors typically need to prove three main elements:
    a. Placement: The initial stage of money laundering involves placing the illicit funds into the financial system. This may involve depositing cash into bank accounts, purchasing assets, or using other methods to introduce the illicit funds into the legitimate economy.
    b. Layering: Once the funds are in the financial system, money launderers engage in complex transactions and multiple layers of transfers, conversions, or movements to obfuscate the paper trail. This may involve wire transfers, multiple bank transactions, international transfers, or other means to create a web of transactions that make it difficult to trace the original source of the funds.
    c. Integration: The final stage of money laundering involves integrating the "cleaned" funds back into the economy in a way that makes them appear legitimate. This could include investing in legitimate businesses, purchasing assets, or engaging in other financial activities.
  3. Criminal Proceeds: Money laundering typically involves the proceeds of various criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, fraud, corruption, organized crime, terrorism, or other illegal conduct. The underlying illegal activity provides the initial illicit funds that are then laundered through the financial system.
  4. Federal Jurisdiction: Money laundering is often prosecuted at the federal level due to its connection to interstate and international financial transactions. Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), are responsible for investigating and prosecuting money laundering offenses.
  5. Penalties: Money laundering is a serious federal offense, and the penalties can be severe. The specific penalties depend on the nature and scope of the money laundering activities, the amount of money involved, and other factors. Penalties can include significant fines, forfeiture of assets, and lengthy imprisonment.

Money laundering is a complex area of federal law, and the specific elements and penalties can vary based on the particular federal statute under which the offense is charged. If you are facing money laundering charges or have concerns related to money laundering, it is important to seek the advice of a knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help protect your rights.

What Is Money Laundering?

Some individuals charged with money laundering do not understand it. If you attempt to pay someone with money you have received from illegal acts or make an attempt to deposit illegally obtained funds into a corporate shell or bank account, the charge could be money laundering. If convicted of the crime, the money is gone and the prison sentence is long.

This is a charge that is often filed against drug dealers. The reason for this is because drug dealers want to “legitimize” their money from the sale of drugs. This means they are concealing where the funds come from. Sometimes they may make it appear as if the money came from legal activities.

Unfortunately, there are completely innocent individuals who are charged with money laundering when they had nothing to do with the crime. If a drug dealer has a friend deposit money into a bank account for them and that money is “dirty money,” the charge can be money laundering if the amount deposited was more than $10,000 and not reported to the IRS.

Aggressive Phoenix Criminal Defense

It can be very confusing to be charged with money laundering, especially if you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or you were simply doing someone a favor. Then again, you may have mistakenly committed the crime. Drugs are not the only services or products that can be provided illegally. Drug dealers usually know what they have done, but there are acts within the corporate world that can be misconstrued as money laundering. If this is you, Myles A. Schneider is ready to help the moment you make the call.

Money Laundering

Section 1956(a) defines three types of criminal conduct: domestic money laundering transactions (§ 1956(a)(1)); international money laundering transactions (§ 1956(a)(2)); and undercover “sting” money laundering transactions (§ 1956(a)(3)). See this Manual at 2182.

To be criminally culpable under 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1), a defendant must conduct or attempt to conduct a financial transaction, knowing that the property involved in the financial transaction represents the proceeds of some unlawful activity, with one of the four specific intents discussed below, and the property must in fact be derived from a specified unlawful activity.

The actual source of the funds must be one of the specified forms of criminal activity identified by the statute, in 18 U.S.C. § 1956(c)(7), or those incorporated by reference from the RICO statute (18 U.S.C. §  1961(1)). Section 1956(c)(7)(B) includes in the list of specified unlawful activity certain offenses against a foreign nation. Thus, proceeds of certain crimes committed in another country may constitute proceeds of a specified unlawful activity for purposes of the money laundering statutes.

To prove a violation of § 1956(a)(1), the prosecutor must prove, either by direct or circumstantial evidence, that the defendant knew that the property involved was the proceeds of any felony under State, Federal or foreign law. The prosecutor need not show that the defendant knew the specific crime from which the proceeds were derived; the prosecutor must prove only that the defendant knew that the property was illegally derived in some way. See § 1956(c)(1).

The prosecutor must also prove that the defendant initiated or concluded, or participated in initiating or concluding, a financial transaction. A “transaction” is defined in § 1956(c)(3) as a purchase, sale, loan, pledge, gift, transfer, delivery, other disposition, and with respect to a financial institution, a deposit, withdrawal, transfer between accounts, loan, exchange of currency, extension of credit, purchase or sale safe-deposit box, or any other payment, transfer or delivery by, through or to a financial institution.

A “financial transaction” is defined in § 1956(c)(4) as a transaction which affects interstate or foreign commerce and: (1) involves the movement of funds by wire or by other means; (2) involves the use of a monetary instrument; or (3) involves the transfer of title to real property, a vehicle, a vessel or an aircraft; or (4) involves the use of a financial institution which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce.

18 U.S. Code § 1957 – Engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

(a)Whoever, in any of the circumstances set forth in subsection (d), knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 and is derived from specified unlawful activity, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).


(1)Except as provided in paragraph (2), the punishment for an offense under this section is a fine under title 18, United States Code, or imprisonment for not more than ten years or both. If the offense involves a pre-retail medical product (as defined in section 670) the punishment for the offense shall be the same as the punishment for an offense under section 670 unless the punishment under this subsection is greater.

(2)The court may impose an alternate fine to that imposable under paragraph (1) of not more than twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction.

(c)In a prosecution for an offense under this section, the Government is not required to prove the defendant knew that the offense from which the criminally derived property was derived was specified unlawful activity.

(d)The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are—

(1)that the offense under this section takes place in the United States or in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States; or

(2)that the offense under this section takes place outside the United States and such special jurisdiction, but the defendant is a United States person (as defined in section 3077 of this title, but excluding the class described in paragraph (2)(D) of such section).

(e)Violations of this section may be investigated by such components of the Department of Justice as the Attorney General may direct, and by such components of the Department of the Treasury as the Secretary of the Treasury may direct, as appropriate, and, with respect to offenses over which the Department of Homeland Security has jurisdiction, by such components of the Department of Homeland Security as the Secretary of Homeland Security may direct, and, with respect to offenses over which the United States Postal Service has jurisdiction, by the Postal Service. Such authority of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Postal Service shall be exercised in accordance with an agreement which shall be entered into by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Postal Service, and the Attorney General.

(f)As used in this section—

(1)the term “monetary transaction” means the deposit, withdrawal, transfer, or exchange, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, of funds or a monetary instrument (as defined in section 1956(c)(5) of this title) by, through, or to a financial institution (as defined in section 1956 of this title), including any transaction that would be a financial transaction under section 1956(c)(4)(B) of this title, but such term does not include any transaction necessary to preserve a person’s right to representation as guaranteed by the sixth amendment to the Constitution;

(2)the term “criminally derived property” means any property constituting, or derived from, proceeds obtained from a criminal offense; and

(3)the terms “specified unlawful activity” and “proceeds” shall have the meaning given those terms in section 1956 of this title.

Contact A Phoenix Money Laundering Lawyer

If you have been charged with money laundering, it is important to contact Myles A. Schneider as soon as possible. We can negotiate with federal and state authorities, including the FBI and any other agencies involved with the case. As a result of these negotiations, we have succeeded in having charges reduced or we have convinced the authorities to not charge at all. If charges are still filed, we will work diligently to prove the facts so that you can go free. To learn more, call 602-926-7373 for a free consultation.